Sunday, 1 February 2009

Louis Vuitton Pacific - Team New Zealand wants rights over TVNZ press coverage?

Sunday evening here in Auckland. Weather hot and muggy, but nothing like the heat across the ditch in the Australian east coast. You have to feel sorry for those guys - melting train tracks, electricity cuts, bush fires. Some summer.

Louis Vuitton Pacific Series
Back in Auckland I spent some of the afternoon down at the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series village. This is the base for the "not the Americas Cup" yachting race that is running on the Waitemata. It is currently in its first round robin. Two more are planned over the next two weeks, leading to the big final shoot out for the finalists on 13th and 14th February.

Current money is already picking a Team New Zealand [Dalton - Dean Barker et al] BMW Oracle [ Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts et al] final.

This stuff is personal. You can't get more grudge into a match than that combination - the physics are against you.

When not on the water the boats, teams and entourage, hang out in the Cup Village. This is the area around Halsey Street next to the Viaduct Harbour, the area at the foot of the downtown water-front which was revitalised in 1999 for the Cup challenge.

Ten years later there are still lots of cafes, restaurants, boats, in the Viaduct Harbour area. And of course the nearby Princess Wharf is the favourite dock for this seasons round of big cruise ships. There are two in harbour right now. The look like they are parked at the foot of Queen Street.

This afternoon both areas were crowded - lots of people checking out the lovely yachts down in this side of the world to share in the buzz of the racing. Lots of families, and for sure, a whole contingent of the young and beautiful hanging out around the big boats the way they do they world over.

The Louis Vuitton Pacific Series
As Wikipedia will tell you, The Louis Vuitton Pacific Series is a match race regatta in America's Cup Class yachts. Racing started on January 30. The final is on the 13th/14th February. As
host, Team New Zealand will qualify automatically for the Cup Final.

The creation of this event is in response to the ongoing legal battle surrounding the America's Cup yachting competition. Ten syndicates are participating. All ten teams will use boats loaned for the regatta from Team New Zealand and BMW Oracle Racing to make participation more affordable.

If this afternoon is anything to go by, the whole event seems a huge success. However, one story currently breaking is a bit disturbing.

Peter Montgomery
Stuff , the online home to Fairfax who own the likes of the totally respectable Dominion newspaper et al, is reporting that Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton has requested that veteran TVNZ yachting commentator Peter Montgomery not be given a part of on the TVNZ commenting team.

Montgomery is the same guy who famously screamed encouragement and almost demented enthusiasm when Team NZ won the Cup over in Santiago . When they held the challenge in Auckland he was once again a fervent supporter of Team New Zealand.

However, now, according to the Stuff report, Dalton of Team New Zealand considers him biased.

I don't know how much notice NZ national television broadcaster, TVNZ is taking of all this - they are apparently refusing to comment at this time - but for me - this is all wrong.

Montgomery, whatever you might think of his decibel level, is a journalist yachting legend in his own right. At least here in NZ.

He deserves his spot over the mike. If there is a problem of balance, then sort it by offering other voices, or have a word.

What isn't acceptable is the impression the story creates that Team New Zealand has these kinds of rights over the way TVNZ staffs its rosters. Somebody, on the TVNZ side, needs to pick up on the Stuff story - as of right now?
TVNZ - Live streaming of races, here


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