Few New Zealanders in 1995 could have avoided television commentator Peter Montgomery’s famous line, ‘the America’s Cup is now New Zealand’s cup!’. The phrase was repeated over and over as New Zealand enjoyed one of the most significant moments in its sporting history.
The emphatic 5-0 sweep achieved by Black Magic (NZL 32) over Stars & Stripes in San Diego was all the more impressive given that its opponent, the controversial American helmsman Dennis Conner, was a four-time winner and widely regarded as ‘Mr America’s Cup’. Team New Zealand had made the finals of the challenger series in 1987 and 1992, and in 1995 syndicate head Peter Blake assembled a ‘dream team’ of New Zealand sailors. An extremely fast boat was superbly sailed by 1984 Olympic gold-medallist Russell Coutts, who was ably backed up by the astute tactician Brad Butterworth and navigator Tom Schnackenberg.
Five years later, in Auckland, Team New Zealand became the first team from a country outside the United States to successfully defend the America's Cup, or ‘Auld Mug’, as it was known.
Image: Black Magic crosses the line (Te Ara)