Team New Zealand celebrated their America’s Cup victory with a ticker-tape parade in Auckland Thursday before taking the Auld Mug for a ferry ride escorted by Maori war canoes.
The New Zealanders claimed yachting’s oldest trophy last week with an emphatic 7-1 win over Oracle Team USA in Bermuda.
Tens of thousands of supporters braved heavy rain to cheer on the young team, which claimed New Zealand’s third win in the regatta after successes in 1995 and 2000.
Syndicate head Grant Dalton said he felt “like a kid at Christmas” as he held the trophy aloft before the cheering crowd.
“We lived in a bubble quite a lot (in Bermuda),” he said.
“We knew it was big back here but until you experience this you really don’t understand it. It’s just amazing.”
Prime Minister Bill English said the success was a result of “leadership through tough times,” alluding to Team NZ’s collapse in the 2013 final, when they blew an 8-1 lead to lose 9-8.
It was labelled the greatest choke in sporting history and English said “there were few believers” but Dalton and his team carried on.
He said the crew had no idea how passionately New Zealanders supported them as they raced for the trophy half a world away in Bermuda.
“They didn’t realise the strong sense of ownership that Kiwis have about this,” English said.
“A few years ago, people weren’t so sure about it but these guys have won them over.”
After parading through the streets of central Auckland on open-top pick-up trucks, Team New Zealand took a ferry boat on a victory lap of the harbour.
They were escorted by three Maori war canoes, or waka, and saluted by hundreds of boats that jammed into the waterway with their sirens blaring.
Spectators used dinghies and paddle boards to gain an aquatic vantage point as the ferry made its was around the foreshore.
“It’s so cool to bring the Cup home and be able to share it with everyday Kiwis, we’re super stoked,” sailor Blair Tuke said.
No official announcement about the next regatta in 2019 has been made yet but Dalton has said it will take place in New Zealand, with most commentators expecting it to be held in Auckland.
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