Island flavour to America's Cup
Brian and Wendy Saward are on the edge of their seats after watching Emirates Team New Zealand sail to victory in San Francisco.
The proud parents of 32 year-old Kiwi grinder Derek will be booking a flight for the 34th America's Cup if the team continues with its present form and makes the Louis Vuitton final.
The Gordons Rd residents will not be the only Waiheke people heading off for the big event either.
Bayleys realtor Pat Regan says he will also be flying out to see his son, Sean, who is Team NZ's construction manager.
"And there will be others," Wendy says. "There are quite a few people on the island connected to the races."
She travelled to San Francisco earlier this month for the opening ceremony but cannot wait to get back.
And there is a home-away-from-home already waiting for her in the form of a new pop-up restaurant and bar called the Waiheke Island Yacht Club.
It is the brainchild of Auckland restaurateur Tony Stewart, of Clooney and Hamptons fame, and has been constructed to resemble a typical island bach with sounds, sights and smells of home. The venue is housed in Pier 29 on the Embarcadero, at the heart of the America's Cup, and is the main meeting place before and after matches for all the teams - Emirates Team New Zealand, Artemis (Sweden), Luna Rossa (Italy) and defending champions Oracle (IS).
Now it also looks set to become a hangout for Waiheke residents when they arrive for the finals.
"Although it is quite pricey with meals averaging around $90 per person," Wendy says.
She says the restaurant does not serve Waiheke wines as it has a contract with local suppliers but has heard there might be a chance once the races are over.
Wendy says none of the family would have ever thought they would be watching Derek, the youngest team member, represent his country when they first came to live on the island in 1986.
He started sailing from the age of eight in an Optimist off Kennedy Point wharf, she says, and became a member of Waiheke High School teacher Mary Forrest's sailing team in the early 90s.
Former Olympic yachtsman and Onetangi resident Gerry Sly also got involved with Derek's training and will be watching the races with interest, wife Margaret says.
But Derek's big break came when he was asked to deliver a keelboat designed by Russell Coutts, the RC44, to Japan in 2005.
"After that, he was invited to become one of the amateur sailors on Artemis," Wendy says.
"He only learned he had been officially included in Emirates Team New Zealand's lineup for this year's Louis Vuitton and America's Cup when he arrived in San Francisco. It's very exciting."
The win against Italian team Luna Rossa in the round robin race of the Louis Vuitton Cup on Monday looked effortless, despite the broken jib clip and missing headsail which threatened to slow the Kiwis down.
Skipper Dean Barker managed to rebuild an earlier lead in the face of disaster and get the 72ft catamaran over the line first by 2 minutes and 18 seconds.
The round robin races continue until August 1, with the Louis Vuitton Cup semis from August 6 to 15.
The finals run from August 17 to 30.
Go to waihekemarketplace. co.nz and click on Latest Edition to see Emirates Team New Zealand battle the broken jib clip on Monday.