Sir Michael Fay was the essential pioneer for New Zealand’s extraordinary America’s Cup success. With his involvement, leadership and support of many campaigns, the Kiwis achieved victory in the remarkably short time span of eight years. Right from the start, the New Zealanders approached the Cup with an open mind and had the confidence to try new things. “We looked for ways to be bold and innovative, and that side of the America’s Cup really appealed to me,” Sir Michael has stated.
Kiwi ingenuity covered a wide range of areas, including using fiberglass in the construction of 12-meter boats for the first time and the simple logic of having two absolutely identical boats for practice and training – something that had never been done before. Fay’s controversial challenge of 1998 with his “Big Boat” exemplified the New Zealand no-holds-barred push to win. Sir Michael is proud of the fact that while it took Australia more than 20 years to win the America’s Cup, New Zealand took the title after just 10 years in only its fourth regatta and then successfully defended the Cup in 2000.