A spectacular sporting event unfolded in San Francisco this northern summer - an event that is a showcase of cutting edge technology in hydrodynamics, aerodynamics, structural engineering, computer modeling, sport science, team dynamics and business. The event is the America’s Cup - the oldest trophy in world sport and the absolute pinnacle of sailing.
In a game that doesn’t just push the limits of current technology, but blasts through it into completely uncharted territory, you’d expect big budgets to prevail, and to an extent, they do - but not as much as you’d think. The America’s Cup match itself was fought out between the defender, Oracle Team USA, and the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger series, Emirates Team New Zealand. Backed by Oracle’s software billionaire Larry Ellison, and representing the most technologically advanced nation on earth, Team USA entered the match against Team New Zealand, representing 4.4m Kiwis, with a budget estimated to be around half that of the Americans.
Team New Zealand have attracted the most talented sailors in the world. They have engaged a group of the most experienced and successful maritime architects in history and they have easy access to reputedly the best and most experienced composite boat builders around.
But so have the defenders - with a lot more cash. And still the Kiwis competed.
Kiwis don’t shy away from the limelight
Emirates Team New Zealand were not the only New Zealanders on show in San Francisco during the event. Russell Coutts, the CEO of Oracle Team USA, structural engineer, Olympic gold medal winner and the greatest America’s Cup skipper of all time is a Kiwi. Perhaps unsurprisingly, his American team is packed full of Antipodeans. In fact, their boat-building team is based at Core Builders Composites in Warkworth, New Zealand.
Virtual Eye, the awesome real time graphics software that makes the arcane sport of sailing understandable and enjoyable for non-sailors, is the product of Animation Research in Dunedin, New Zealand. Many members of the television coverage team are Kiwis and there’s a good, solid smattering of us throughout the other sailing teams competing at this year’s event as well.
So, how do New Zealand organisations like Team New Zealand, Core Builders Composites and Animation Research earn their places at the table alongside - or even ahead of - huge, technology-driven multinationals?
Here’s what I think...
New Zealand is one of the most recently colonised developed nations in the world. That means the pioneering spirit is still a strong influence on our culture and therefore in our companies. It means we are able to (because in our still-recent past we’ve had to) make the absolute most of the resources available to us. We ‘know’ we can turn our hands to anything and we persevere no matter what obstacles we face.
For us, need is still the mother of invention. We haven’t yet succumbed to the comfortable but limiting notion that someone else will be there to help us out if the going gets tough. Sitting at the bottom of the world, many hours flying and several time zones away from the rest of the world, even in business, we have had to stand on our own two feet.
And now that technology is shrinking the world, we can share the benefit of the passion, imagination and ingenuity that our independence has fostered.
Large multinationals like Emirates, Nestle, Toyota, Camper and Omega, through their support of Team New Zealand, are associating with those attributes for the disproportionate success they bring. We at Infotools are doing our bit to take those same qualities to our global friends and this little muse is our opportunity to say thanks to Team New Zealand, to Core Composite Builders, to Animation Research and to every other Kiwi success story out there, for making our story just that little bit easier to tell!
Top image : Google