#162: America’s Cup, Black Inc, Edge Metaphor

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From Brian Sweeney, producer NZEDGE.COM | 27 September 2013 | #162 | New York

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The reason why sport is a Top-10 global industry? Spectacular Drama. With victors and the vanquished. This is what the dramatic America’s Cup in San Francisco has ultimately been about, with a spectacular result for Oracle and Jimmy Spithill/Ben Ainsley and for the vision of Russell Coutts and Mr Incredible Larry Ellison. America will feel great about this win; that it has been against a nation of five million makes our role in it all the more significant.

The elements of Oracle’s turnaround from 1-8 sudden death will be studied at leadership and innovation schools for decades. What occurred? Deep observation, technical analysis and assimilation, rapid ideation, incisive decision-making, fast kaizen everywhere, smart personnel changes (resulting in a highly communicative afterguard, whereas we seemed to clam up), mental toughness, a lot of chatter, and of course deep resources – all resulting in a rocket of a boat. It would have been wonderful for New Zealand to have won the America’s Cup, and the ride to 8-1 was terrific; thanks Team New Zealand for the magical memories.

There will be a lot of head-gnashing and I would prefer to skip this whole part of the grieving process and go straight for the learnings. I showed two “emotional heatmaps” in my August TEDx talk on New Zealand nation branding, and asked the question “how do we become more like California?”

New Zealand is generally perceived as friendly, warm, easy-going, kind, balanced; California is perceived as creative, innovative, entrepreneurial, passionate, a leader.  What type of psychic engineering and encouragement do we need for New Zealand to achieve attitude and performance upgrades; not to lose goodness, but to add a decisive edge.  I ask this question seriously because going to that place of ugly invective that we experienced after successive All Black World Cup defeats is pointless (try being a New York sports fan, the Giants won the Superbowl two years ago and last weekend lost to North Carolina 0-30; as for the Yankees, don’t ask).

Let’s divert this energy to somewhere positive. There is huge positioning to drive right now for our specialist design, engineering, manufacturing and services excellence.  New Zealanders had a very significant role in designing and building these jaw-dropping boats, perfected how to sail them, and took us to the edge of victory (“edge”, in all its meanings, was a metaphor that permeated media coverage of the regatta). Here’s recognition and applause for our team, our sailors, government, sponsors and supporters for the thrills you brought us. Watching and listening to the races from New York with an all-US commentary team and with daily Times and WSJ coverage, I see that the messages are very positive for New Zealand’s reputation, engendering incredible respect and affection that may in fact be where our afterburners reside.

Let’s do something really positive with this Aotearoa experience. We need to positively move our national character forward with 2-3 key learnings, keep wave after wave of export initiatives going forth, suffuse the world with New Zealandness (Lorde! PJ!) and absorb into ourselves sharp global insights and influences lest we develop the lockjaw that comes from an island mentality. In fact the ideal cup catharsis could be a joint Emirates Team New Zealand/Oracle Team USA ticketertape parade down Queen Street, with the America’s Cup, and with the entire Auckland boatbuilding industry. Talk about global photo opportunity.

Our journey calls for grit, guts and genius. The dream is constant: “Winning the World from the Edge.”

Business / Innovation / Science / Politics & Economics / Society /

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Oracle defeats EmiratesTeam NZ to take out 34th America’s Cup – Christian Science Monitor
Oracle celebrates America’s Cup win, world wonders ‘how did they do it?’ – Washington Post
Jimmy Spithill, Oracle, leads great comeback; tormenting Kiwis a bonus – Mercury News
Team NZ & Oracle win one race each; Kiwis on verge of winning cupWashington Post
Team NZ, ‘Gritty band of sailors’, in David v Goliath battle for America’s Cup – Independent
Team NZ wins 4 of 5 races, dominance due to more than sailing nousWall Street Journal
Russell Coutts, Oracle, on “collision course with his countrymen” – SF Gate
Team NZ pay as much attention to heart-rates as optimum hull shapes – New York Times
New Zealanders are making their mark on San Francisco – SF Gate


Leanne Pooley’s Everest documentary Beyond the Edge premieres in Toronto – Globe and Mail
Sir Edmund Hillary held in Nepalese esteem; peak to be named in his honour Guardian
Sir Keith Park locomotive rededicated to Battle of Britain hero after 20 yearsBBC News
McLaren Racing celebrates 50th anniversary, unveils first McLaren hyper car – Get Surrey
Women’s Suffrage marks 120th anniversary with 24,000 signature petition showing – 7 News


New Zealand’s yacht building ingenuity on display; marine industry profits rise – Forbes
Martin Jetpack to hit US market, question of class final hurdle – Wall Street Journal
Minaal Backpack entrepreneurs secure their $30,000 goal within seven hours – Forbes
Chris Bayliss says good managers sometimes have to set staff free – Financial Times
New Zealand to be first nation to raise interest rates since GFC – Wall Street Journal
Air New Zealand’s flat-beds come out top in review against Delta Air Lines – Forbes
New Zealand’s marketing efforts for merino; textbook lesson in how to do it – AFR
Fonterra applauded by Chinese for handling of Botulism scare – South China Morning Post
Murray McCully says Pacific nations on track to achieve energy goal – Xinhua
New Zealanders team up with Tui to plumb mates house with beer – Daily Mail
Leon Grice, consular general, Cup win will stand businesses in good stead – Mercury News
New Zealand passes law prohibiting patenting of software; “not an invention” – CBC News
James White, 30, coding games for the future out of his Tokyo café, Pico Pico – Polygon
Skipp Williamson, consultant, ‘successful entrepreneurs don’t have Plan Bs’ – AFR


Lorde, makes cover of Billboard, says in an ideal world wouldn’t do interviews – Billboard
Keith Urban releases Fuse, debuts No 1 on Billboard albums chart – Los Angeles Times
Eleanor Catton shortlisted for Man Booker Prize, excited for NZ literature – Guardian
Xena left a mark on its audiences, American actress explores for New York Times
Peter Arnett, war correspondent; text to feature in new AP book – New York Times
The Naked and Famous says LA was perfect environment to make 2nd album – The West
Penny Ashton “magnificently” pulls off one-woman Jane Austen musical – Edmonton Journal
David Scott, artist, exhibits hyper-realist “eerie-calm” at St Albert gallery – St. Albert Gazette
Streets of Lardo, wins AAA category at the Unsigned Only Music Competition – Scoop
Wayne Hay, NZ journalist, detained in Egypt freed after five days – Daily Telegraph
Auckland University law students’ feminist Robin Thicke parody a hit – TNT
Lorde, 16, breaks onto the Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten Billboard
Nabil Sabio Azadi, artist, reinvents commodity for world travellers – New York Times
Danielle Cormack, actress, loves to play strong women – Irish Independent
Lloyd Jones unearths his past in new memoir, A History of SilenceSydney Morning Herald
Lorde’s Billboard Top 10 smash hit Royals covered by Selena Gomez in Canada – Billboard
Eleanor Catton’sThe Luminaries seethes with misfired bullets and opium – Guardian
Vinka Design shows white wedding trouser suit at NZ Fashion Week – Irish Independent
Scott Walker, director, talks about being hit by a superstorm in Alaska – KFTV
NZ Artists feature in exhibition at Hamish Morrison Galerie Berlin – Hamish Morrison Galerie
Hugh Pocock on life before becoming artist; sold hot dogs at Memorial Stadium – City Paper
Authors felt instant connection to Chicago, based The Orphan Triology there – Gapers Block
Connan Mockasin recorded “bewitching” new album in Tokyo hotel room – Guardian
NZ Film Archive’s silent treasure haul sees light of day again – New York Times


Lydia Ko, defends Canadian Open title; “brilliance shone brightest of all” – Vancouver Sun
Nick Willis, NZ Olympian, wins Fifth Avenue Mile in New York for 2nd time – Washington Post
NZ Horsemen take out top spots at Burghley Horse Trials – Wilts & Glous Standard
Alexander Ray, cyclist, shreds opponents’ legs to win Bloomington Criterium – Pantagraph
All Blacks defeat Pumas 28-13, Dan Carter kicks record 1,400 points – Irish Independent
Murray Martin, golfer, wins Australian Men’s Senior Amateur ChampionshipGolf.org.au
Nick Willis, Olympian, set to play in SpeedGolf World Championships – Runners World


Sandra Nunnerley, NY interior designer, merges sumptuous with Spartan – Globe and Mail
Karen Walker & Rebecca Taylor show Spring ’14 collections at NY Fashion Week – Style
Coffeesmiths Collective to open fifth specialist café in central London – Brisbane Times
Ben Shewry, chef, named Victoria’s best at launch of The Age Good Food Guide ‘14The Age
Chris Coubrough, Flying Kiwi Inns owner, proud to chair Norfolk Food FestivalEDP 24
Rebecca Taylor, designer, brings feminine style back to work – Washington Post
Jeneve Williams, winemaker, talks to The Telegraph about buying for Marks & Spencers
New Zealand winemakers lobby for same legal protection as Champagne – Wall Street Journal
Emilia Wickstead’s collection “carefully calibrated to appeal to the ladylike” – Daily Mail
Michael Wilson, Artisan Roast brand founder, Kuala Lumpur’s “coffee Yoda” – Malay Mail


New Zealand experiences warmest winter on record, average temperature of 9.5C – Guardian
Kakapo named second ugliest animal in the world, blob fish takes out top spot – BBC News
New Zealand plants thrive, Washington garden as close to NZ as can be in US – Seattle Times
Sirocco Kakapo creates a buzz in Japan, gains thousands of new fans – DOC Blog
Orana Wildlife Park lets visitors get up close with lions; humans caged – Daily Mail


Mana Vautier, NASA aero-engineer, inspires W Auckland kids to dream big – Stuff
New Zealand motorcylists make rare crossing of North-South Korean border – ABC News
Wayne Gatenby, engineer, 39, nearing 3-month US cross-continental cycle tour endAl.com
Gareth Morgan shares N Korean insights after historic motorbike odysseyNorth Korea News
Robert Bartholomew, sociologist, social media has potential for mass hysteria – Atlantic
Scott McLaughlin drives home road safety in Queensland school – Sunshine Coast Daily
Paul Nathan photographer for NY doggie couture crowd – New York Magazine
John Campbell, physicist, demonstrates fire walking at University of Georgia – Online Athens
Ken Ring, weatherman, pens 450-page Irish weather predictions for ’14 Irish Examiner
Crocodile traps NZer on West Australian island, rescued after two weeksBBC News

See all stories and an 8,500 story archive of international New Zealand news 2000-2013 at NZEDGE/MEDIA.

Researched and edited by Jane Nye (Berlin).

Web published by Kirsten McConchie (Auckland).

The Sociology of a Color by Prudence Stone

Some years ago I had a highly engaging conversation with New Zealand sociologist Prudence Stone about the color Black, and in particular its role in the cultural narrative of New Zealand. Prudence was working on a book exploring this subject, and this month her book Black Inc. one nation’s identity, a global politic has been published (with a brilliant design by Anna Brown). I highly recommend this as a companion to the discussions and debates on national identity and branding that are flourishing and will gain more currency in the wake of the America’s Cup.

“Black is explored widely through genealogy, ethnicity, religion, history, sexual mores and a hijacked “Black Power”…A highly interesting and debatable treatise. Otago Daily Times.

From the book’s blurb: “For anyone who is suspicious of history, critical of power and control, or simply enjoys undisciplined philosophy.

“This is the book that explores one nation’s impact on the world through its symbolic take-over of the symbolic values for the colour black. Come on a journey through New Zealand’s cultural narrative, to discover the irony and politics surrounding its production of national identity.

“Where does black’s symbolic powers come from? How are they reproduced through time? Be prepared to be turned on by a new theory of cultural reproduction that explains how New Zealand transformed black’s symbolic power and in doing so, made its cultural mark upon a global political economy. Exquisitely illustrated, available as large hardback or e-book. Visit http://shareblackinc.wordpress.com for more details.


American writer Thomas Pynchon has a new novel out – Bleeding Edge – and while this is not a review of the book, it serves as a platform to ruminate on the edge metaphor as means of denoting advantage, danger, excitement, innovation. So here is a chronicle of the America’s Cup Regatta via the edge metaphor.

Race 4 was a thriller in the fog, wind and salt spray on San Francisco Bay, with the foiling 72-foot catamarans sometimes veering toward the edge of control in wind that reached 22 knots.

Where the Kiwi syndicate has really had the edge over its opponents is in time.

Join us for live coverage as Team New Zealand hope to edge closer to winning the Auld Mug.

Team New Zealand nearly capsized during a tack – teetering on the edge of disaster – in Race 8.

Team NZ’s near-capsize showed just how on the edge these racing machines are.

There are all sorts of examples where there is danger and when you’re pushing the edge. It’s about knowing when to push and when to back off.


It was spectacular, edge-of-your-seat action, and oh so excruciatingly tense.

It was a game of centimeters, with Team NZ’s ability to nail the small moments giving them the edge.

“I love that athletes tweet and interact with the fans. They’re going to go a little bit on the edge.”

New Zealand on edge at prospect of winning America’s Cup

Team New Zealand win race 10 and edge closer to America’s Cup

New Zealand’s cruel residence on the precipice of America’s Cup ownership continued today.

The game of modifications and copycatting is on in earnest now as both teams seek for a telling edge between two evenly matched boats.

Alarmingly Oracle now appears to have a clear edge in boat speed over the Kiwis.

Barker had the big edge with New Zealand leading, 8-3, after Saturday’s race was postponed, but Spithill was hardly conceding defeat.

They were faster upwind in the lighter conditions, but Oracle had a massive edge downwind to offset that.

OTUSA seem to have the edge in acceleration right now and could just out-sprint them.

Port entry is definitely an advantage for the starts, but in a flood tide the edge isn’t so significant.

Team New Zealand still looked to have an edge in yesterday’s upwind leg but they couldn’t eat into Oracle’s lead on the beat today.

That shrinking lead no doubt has all of New Zealand onedge.

Another Oracle win puts Kiwis on the edge.

Oracle didn’t replicate that edge until the second week of racing.

The aquatic duel between New Zealand and the US for the 34th America’s Cup is an intoxicating mix of cutting-edge sailing technology and seat-of-the-pants human skill.

There’s so much danger involved that you’re always on the edge of your seat.

There were a bunch of little changes that just reduced the drag a few kilos here, a few kilograms there, and all the sudden you have an edge.


Fern symbol via www.nzflag.com founded by Lloyd Morrison. Banner photo: Above Masterton, August 2013



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