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Don't Make Fun of the Sheep!

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - February 22, 1999 - A Special Delegation of AmericaOne supporters is visiting Auckland on a weeklong tour to learn first hand what it takes to win the America's Cup. The group includes sponsors, media contacts and committed followers. Freelance adventure sports journalist Peter Henig is traveling with the group. He is also a technology and business editor for the Red Herring magazine and online service based out of San Francisco and will post daily reports from Auckland.

Kiwiland Update - February 22, 1999

"We used to have about three sheep for every one person in New Zealand, but I think we're now up to about five," says Emma, a native Kiwi, when describing the local culture.

"But the one thing you don't want to do is make fun of our sheep," she adds, having heard one too many sheep jokes in her day.

Aside from the occasional "ewe-phemism", however, there's some other interesting tidbits of information about Auckland and the island country of New Zealand which make it a truly unique host for the America's Cup. First, Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the world, today containing 1.3 million people after it was founded in the 1840s by Sir John Logan Campbell. Sir John subsequently caved into office politics and named the city after his boss, Lord Auckland.

The North Island, the one containing Auckland and the race course, was the first of the two islands to be settled. As they say around these parts, if you're driving around Auckland, you're either driving into, or out of, a volcanic crater (preferably, an inactive one).

Second, New Zealand has the largest number of pleasure craft per capita of any country in the world, way ahead of Australia and the United States. Moreover, its Sky Tower is now the tallest building in Australasia, beating out Sydney's landmark tower by 20 meters.

Which brings up the third juicy piece of information emerging out of NZ. As most people know, there continues to be a friendly rivalry between the Aussies and the Kiwis -- over what, specifically, no one is quite sure -- but it's been a rivalry which has lasted quite a long time.

Recently, the heat between the two countries has been turned up a notch due to a claim by Australia -- and it's a bold one -- that it was they who invented the well-known Kiwi dessert, Pavlova; a boast which makes most Kiwis laugh out loud.

"They say they invented it, but they didn't," says Don Gunn, a travel representative for New Zealand.

But can the Kiwis prove it?

"It doesn't matter, we invented it first."

Meanwhile, in the sailing world, Monday was a big day of public speaking for Paul Cayard, CEO and skipper of AmericaOne.

Mr. Cayard first offered up his thoughts at a lunch -- sans Pavlova -- hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand where he discussed the "Business of the America's Cup".

That same evening, Mr. Cayard again spoke at a dinner hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, where guests were invited to view the America's Cup trophy itself, which is currently under tight security after barely surviving a fight with a sledgehammer by some crazed non-sailor back in 1996.

Although both events were as much about encouraging partnerships within the sailing and business communities, as they were about enjoying the royal New Zealand hospitality, Mr. Cayard also offered some candid remarks about his vision of the America's Cup event.

"I'm convinced that sports has become the best corporate communications tool in existence, because I've seen what it has done for sports like tennis and soccer," said Mr. Cayard to the American Chamber of Commerce audience. "And we can move toward that level with sailing, but we've got a long way to go."

Mr. Cayard also took his vision of the Cup one step further: "Should we be fortunate to win the America's Cup, I have an agreement with my yacht club (the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco) that we would turn over the event to independent management."

This latter statement is an unusual break in America's Cup tradition, where the host yacht club has historically staged and organized the event, as well as set the rules for the challengers.

Ultimately, Mr. Cayard's bid for this America's Cup campaign appears to be as much about boosting the overall exposure for the sport, as it is about bringing the Cup back to the States.

"It's a once in a lifetime event (for most individuals) that comes along once every three years," said the skipper. "But what it really is all about is, sure there's a winner and I'm focused on being the winner, but I want this to be a great event."

And no one said even one word about the sheep!

Peter Henig
Online Investment Editor
The Red Herring Online

AmericaOne is dedicated to recapturing the America’s Cup by applying U.S. technology in computer equipment, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, sail design, naval architecture and structural engineering to America's Cup sailboat design. Technology partners include Hewlett-Packard Company, Bellcore/SAIC and Ford Motor Company/Visteon. The AmericaOne team is comprised of 43 professionals, including 30 members of the design team actively working on the research and design of its sailboats. Operating since June 1, 1996, AmericaOne is the challenger on behalf of San Francisco’s St. Francis Yacht Club.

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Phone: 415-474-3425
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