Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind


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The Auld Mug is ours!

Almost every nation finds a sporting event so captivating, that it comes to a virtual standstill during the event. For Kiwis, this happens with international Rugby events such as the Rugby World Cup, the Bledisloe Cup and the current British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand. The Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games would also be top contenders.

There is one other sporting event that sees our nation pause and television news shows devote prime spots for. And for this we have to thank the Australians. I don’t believe I just thanked the Aussies – I must be delirious.

Way back in the 1970s Australia started challenging the United States for the world’s oldest international sporting trophy – the America’s Cup. It had been held by the New York Yacht Club since 1857, and when Australia finally won the cup in 1983, they ended the longest winning streak in sporting history.

Australia is a nation we don’t mind supporting if we are not competing against them, and as we’re both sailing mad nations and small fry compared to America, our interest in the America’s Cup grew with each challenge. When Australia finally won, us Kiwis were cheering as loudly, if not more so, than the Aussies.

With the next challenge to be close by in Australia, and our natural desire to beat the Aussies at anything, interest was high enough to raise the funding necessary to make a challenge for the cup in 1987.

NZ’s KZ 7 (Kiwi Magic) was one of 13 yachts to compete for the right to challenge Australia for the cup. Perhaps our interest in the challenge series would not have been so intense if it had not been for one factor: Dennis Conner (who had lost to the Australians four years previously and went on to win the Cup back for America) accused the Kiwi team of Cheating: “Why would you want to build a fibreglass 12-metre [yacht] unless you wanted to cheat?”

We like to think that we are special when it comes to the matter of fair play, and that it is more important than winning. So when we were accused of cheating, everyone saw red and the cup challenge become personal to almost every Kiwi. How dare someone accuse us of cheating.

The Kiwis had no experience at building aluminium hull racing yachts, which was the international standard at the time, but had years of building ferro-cement and glass reinforced plastic yachts, so it was only natural for us to use that technology in an America’s Cup challenge. The challenges to the legitimacy of what became fondly known as the Plastic Fantastic saw Conner rise to the status of “Dirty Den – the American that kiwis loved to hate”.

I guess the fact that New Zealand is a tiny country gives us a sense of “David verses Goliath” mentality especially in events such as the America’s Cup where vast sums of money are sunk into challenges and defences. The kiwis have only a fraction of the funding available to other teams, yet in the America’s Cup events following our first attempt, New Zealand has won the right to challenge for the cup five times and defended it twice. In other words New Zealand has been in seven of the last nine America’s Cup finals.

Today, New Zealand once more becomes the proud holder of the America’s Cup and during that final race, much of the country came to a standstill, and news bulletins have headlined the win and very little else. When the team arrive home next week, there’ll be ticker-tape parades and numerous official and unofficial functions in honour of their success.

Then there’ll be the hard work to prepare for a defence in Auckland in 2021. With any luck, I’ll be there to cheer on my favourite team. Go Team New Zealand!

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We Won!

I’m not particularly sports minded, and I didn’t set the alarm for 5:00 am this morning to watch the World Rugby Cup (RWC) Final between the All Blacks and the Wallabies.

The RWC became something of an anti-climax for me at the end of the quarter-finals, when I realised no northern hemisphere countries would be represented in the semifinals. Somehow it’s easier to feel more pride, when we come up against our larger northern hemisphere rivals and win, than against our southern hemisphere neighbours.

It was a great effort by the All Blacks: the first team in RWC history to win back-to-back finals; and the first team to win the cup three times.

We can’t take anything away from the Australian effort. The well deserved their place in the final, and as usual they proved worthy adversaries.


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New Zealand beats Sri Lanka in the World Cup opener

New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by 98 runs in the first match of the ICC World Cup. I know this will be late news for almost every NZer, but just in case there are some who slept all through yesterday, or were otherwise not able to communicate with anyone or have access to the radio, television, newspapers, Internet or smoke signals, remember you read it here first.

For those who are unfortunate to live where the gentlemen’s sport of cricket is unknown, New Zealand and Australia are co-hosting the 2015 ICC World cup between 14 February and 29 March. The competition sees 14 countries compete for the cup, playing the ODI (One Day International) version of the game. The countries taking part are (by ranking) England, South Africa, India, Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, West Indies, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland, and United Arab Emirates.

If you are unsure how the game of cricket is played, here’s a simple explanation:

  • You have two sides, one out in the field and one in.
  • Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out.
  • When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out.
  • Sometimes you get men still in and not out.
  • When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in.
  • There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.
  • Depending on the weather and the light, the umpires can also send everybody in, no matter if they’re in or out.
  • When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game

The rules, of course, are much more complicated but the above explanation should go a long way to making sense of the game.


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So very calm

The view eastwards from my home office window

The view eastwards from my home office window

Being well into my sixties, it seems that I should no longer be surprised by the everyday little things we encounter in our daily life. It occurs to me that I am surprised by the effect that the view from my home office window has on me.  It’s a lovely warm winter’s day – 16°C (61°F). What I find surprising is a realisation that there is not the slightest hint of a breeze. Even the the wind turbines in the distance are still.

The image shown in the header of this blog is cropped from a snapshot of the view from the terrace outside my office window. There are three wind farms on the ranges seen in the distance, although they are not easy to identify in the picture, being taken on my HP Slate tablet. I’m not sure of the total number of turbines but each wind farm has between 50 and 80. Today, not one of them is moving. The day is eerily calm and the effect is carried over into my being.

Today is not a day for ranting. It’s more a day for gentle reflection and being grateful for the blessings life has bestowed on me: an amazing wife, two wonderful children, three absolutely adorable grandchildren and good health (if I ignore the migraines). I have a mortgage free home with views that are simply stunning and change by the hour.  It’s almost perfect.

Except…

It’s Sunday, which means it’s race day at the nearby motor racing circuit. We are at an elevation so that even though the circuit is around a kilometre away, we get the tortured sounds of screaming engines from various  parts of the track, without any intervening obstructions to moderate the noise.