Nelson man Andrew Marshall in San Francisco with Team New Zealand in the background.

Nelson has cup fever

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From the calm waters of Nelson Haven on Sunday morning to the choppy San Francisco Bay, Nelsonians are excited about the America’s Cup and the possibility of it being in Kiwi hands by tomorrow morning.

On Sunday, local sailor Rohan O’Neill-Stevens, 13, (pictured right) tried to emulate his Emirates Team New Zealand heroes, going for a sail with friend Rebecca Newnham, 12, just hours after watching the races at home and a week before the local season starts at the Nelson Yacht Club.
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In San Francisco, Nelsonians there say watching Team New Zealand race is once in a lifetime moment and they can’t wait for Dean Barker to get his hands on the cup.

Former Nayland College teacher Andrew Marshall, who has been teaching in San Francisco for a year, told Nelson Weekly the atmosphere has been fantastic and he’s been to most of the races at the waterfront, cheering on ETNZ.

While Andrew has been cheering on the team from the waterfront, another former Nelson man, Chris Irwin, was on his yacht in San Francisco harbour where he was part of the spectator fleet.

He says watching the massive AC72 catamarans speed by was incredible and that there were so many boats watching the action that it felt like you could hop across the harbour “from one yacht to the next”.

The two Nelson men are some of the thousands of New Zealanders who are on the California coast to watch the America’s Cup.

Emirates’ Team New Zealand has a 7-1 lead in the finals series over holders Oracle Team USA and needs two more race wins to claim back the Auld Mug.

Andrew who has been teaching at the city’s international school says the fact that he was there while the cup was on was a coincidence but he is a big America’s Cup fan and is thrilled to be able to be a part of it. He says the only New Zealanders he met in his first three months in the city were from Team New Zealand and being on the shore was a special moment with New Zealand flags everywhere.

“It’s been really cool to be a part of and just seeing all the New Zealanders and all the support, it’s incredible.”

He says many locals were backing a kiwi win, distancing themselves from Larry Ellison and keen to support the proud kiwi sailors and their supporters. “There are a lot of locals that are very into it. It’s big in the city because it’s advertised heavily in the city. When they find out I’m a New Zealander they come up and are almost apologetic, saying ‘we are American but we’re backing New Zealand.’ There is enthusiasm for the cup and if they’re not enthusiastic about the American team then they’re enthusiastic about us winning it,” he says.

Chris, who has worked in Silicon Valley since 1998, sails often in the harbour and says it was special to be able to watch Team New Zealand on water he is so familiar with.
“It’s been really great to watch. Spectacular.”