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FREQUENT FLYER CASHES IN WITH EMIRATES TEAM NEW ZEALAND

FREQUENT FLYER CASHES IN WITH EMIRATES TEAM NEW ZEALAND

16.03.2006: FREQUENT FLYER CASHES IN WITH EMIRATES TEAM NEW ZEALAND

McGregor enjoys Skywards bonus as mastman Mason says Kiwis can deliver America’s Cup to Emirates

Dubai, UAE, March 16: When Todd McGregor signed up for Emirates Airline’s frequent flyer programme, Skywards, he was more concerned with getting an upgrade; sailing off Dubai with some of the world’s best yachtsmen was not in the fine print.

But this week McGregor, as well as 30 other guests and media, earned the bonus of match-racing around the harbour off Dubai International Marine Club with members of Emirates Team New Zealand, the No.1 challenger for the most prestigious prize in sailing - the America’s Cup.

"Admittedly, I haven’t done much sailing so I didn’t really know what to expect but it was great fun and I got a lot of it," said McGregor, who is the Managing Director of a Dubai-based research and consulting firm.

McGregor sailed in a five-man crew with Emirates Team New Zealand trimmer Grant Loretz and bowman Andrew McLean in charge. Top jockeys Frankie Detorri and Ted Durcan were also among the Emirates Airline guests this week.

Loretz skippered the yacht during the Pro Am match-race while McLean called the tactics and made sure the yacht was sailing fast against some stiff competition from three other crews, one of which included Grant Dalton, the General Manager of Emirates Team New Zealand.

McGregor worked under Loretz’s nose during the match races trimming the main sail, while the rest of the crew kept the front of the boat trimmed. McGregor said hearing the sailing jargon was another highlight. "It’s easy to think the lingo is too confusing until you hear it in action with professionals using it," he said.



In the first match race of the day McGregor’s boat was just beaten, but Loretz and McLean came back to win the second and third races convincingly. While the racing was clearly something different, McGregor said it was "just fantastic to be out on the water".

"I’ve been fishing at the top of the Palm but other than that there really isn’t that much of an opportunity to get out on the water, so to look back and see Dubai being built from the water was probably my highlight," he added.

"And I think more than anything with the sailing it was interesting to see how seriously these Emirates Team New Zealand guys take it and what’s involved with their jobs because some of them get paid buckets of money to do it."

One of the most experienced sailors in the Emirates Team NZ crew is Matthew Mason, from Whangarei in New Zealand. This is Mason’s sixth America’s Cup campaign and he is in charge of the 32.5 metre-long (107 foot) mast on the Emirates yacht.

He said the team was gaining on the competition at every regatta and he was supremely confident they would give Emirates its "monies worth" when the America’s Cup series starts in Valencia, Spain in April 2007.

"I was in the team in 1995 when we won it in NZL32 and again in 2000 when we defended it in Auckland, but I sailed with another yacht in the 2003 attempt," he said.

"We’ve started with a whole new campaign with Dalts (Grant Dalton) in charge now and it has been great," he said. "We launched our first new boat in January this year and we closed the gap on Alinghi (the Swiss defending champions). We’ve got another new boat coming later this year and I’m sure we’ll shut the gap and overtake them."


In what was one of the biggest upsets in sailing history, Alinghi, which is funded by a land-locked country, took the America’s Cup title from Emirates Team New Zealand in 2003. But Mason said it is because of Emirates’ support that the team is in a strong position to win it back.

"With what happened in 2003 it would have been very, very hard to get the team up and running again without they’re funding and support from Emirates," he said. "So we’re very lucky we got sponsorship from them and we’re going to go on a deliver for them, you’ll see."

Captions:

1. Star jockey Frankie Detorri, one of the Emirates Team New Zealand Pro-Am guests, dismounts in typical fashion.

2. Matthew Mason (right, bare feet), who will be contesting his sixth America’s Cup campaign, with Emirates Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton (2nd from left) and their Pro-Am team including jockeys Frankie Detorri and Ted Durcan.

3. Jockeys Frankie Detorri and Ted Durcan enjoying the ride in the Emirates Team New Zealand Pro-Am off Dubai International Marine Club.

- Tony Lewis, Total Communications, Dubai
Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/emirates-team-new-zealand-mcgregor-skywards-bonus-mastman-mason-kiwis-america-cup-emirate-dubai-consulting-firm-grant-loretz-mclean-jockeys---9492.html

16.03.2006 / MaP

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