America's Cup Returns Home

The America's Cup trophy, fully restored by Garrard of London, was returned home to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron today - but only temporarily. The famous trophy will, starting Friday, be taken on a 17 centre, seven week tour of the country so that the people of New Zealand can see for themselves the sporting icon, the winning of which, in May 1995, generated so much national pride and euphoria.

The Auld Mug was officially handed back to Squadron commodore John Heise by Garrard managing director Mr Richard Jarvis a special luncheon at the Squadron to mark the occasion.

The guest speaker at the luncheon, New Zealand's Minister for Sport, Leisure and Fitness, the Hon Murky McCoy, used the occasion to announce that the WestpacTrust Bank will tour the trophy, on behalf of the Squadron, as the launch of its supporters’ programme for Team New Zealand's defence of the trophy in the year 2000.

The Westpac Trust Cup tour was originally planned for earlier this year but was delayed when the America's Cup was badly damaged in a mindless attack by a political activist in March. The Cup was returned to Garrard who have painstakingly restored the trophy to its former magnificence in a process that has taken the best part of three months. Garrard, the Crown Jeweller, made the trophy 150 years ago. The company carried out the restoration work at no cost.

Team New Zealand won the Cup when it beat the defender, Dennis Conner’s Young America, 5-0 in San Diego in May, 1995. Sir Peter Blake, currently in Europe, phoned in to add his thoughts to today's proceedings: "The Cup is back at the Squadron, but it belongs to all New Zealanders," said Sir Peter. "Now, through the WestpacTrust tour, everyone will get a chance to see the Auld Mug. The trophy is irreplaceable, but so too are the pride and commitment that went into winning it in the first place. One senseless act cannot dull those qualities so now, with the Cup restored and returned, it is onwards and upwards to bring the same attributes to our defence of the Auld Mug in the Hauraki Gulf."

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