America’s Cup action up close in personal with front row seats report from Hayden Whitburn.
Michael Douglas and Hayden
Whitburn, who took a month’s leave from his role at the Westhaven office, was in Bermuda at the invitation of Sir Russell Coutts, working with the young sailors of Sir Russell’s America’s Cup Endeavour programme — and watching the racing from a VIP boat right on the course.
Hayden has been involved with Sir Russell, running his kids’ sailing programme at Manly Sailing Club, north of Auckland. Hayden has known the America’s Cup legend since his days growing up in Dunedin, and has stayed in touch with his role model.
‘I’ve been working with Russell on his junior sailing programme for the past year, which is going really well, and he invited me to come up to Bermuda and help out with the guest chaser programme, too’, Hayden says.
Being a Commentator on a VIP chase boat around the course carrying sponsors and celebrities like actor Michael Douglas and the King of Spain, has meant Hayden has had a close-up view of the spectacular and heart-stopping racing.
‘We were allowed to be right on the course next to the umpires and right next to the media boat. It’s pretty awesome seeing the boats up close, much like the Formula one racing!’
Sir Russell has been running the America’s Cup Endeavour community sailing programme in Bermuda during the build-up to the Cup. More than 1550 students aged 9 to 12 years old, from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds across Bermuda, have been introduced to the sport of sailing through a special education programme which features a science, technology, engineering, arts and maths curriculum, dubbed ‘STEAM through Sailing’. It's amazing what Russell is doing for our sport. So many sailors burn out at a young age but he is all about getting kids into the sport and keeping them in and most importantly having fun!
Between the Louis Vuitton and America’s Cup series, a team of young Kiwi sailors also competed in the Endeavour Junior Regattas in Bermuda.
‘They got to race right in front of the grandstand, reaching back and forth, so that’s a great opportunity for them’, says Hayden.
It was also spectacular to see the J-Class yachts racing with all our sails on display.