Allure of prized cup draws the crowds

America's Cup minder Norman Newton is surrounded by pupils wanting one last glimpse and, if they...
America's Cup minder Norman Newton is surrounded by pupils wanting one last glimpse and, if they are lucky, a touch of the America's Cup yesterday as he tries to make his way out of the Mount Aspiring College gym. Members of Team New Zealand and the cup were at the college as part of a regional tour of New Zealand. PHOTO: TIM MILLER
It may be 166 years old but the America's Cup still draws a crowd and yesterday it was Wanaka and Queenstown's turn for a close look at the Auld Mug.

Team New Zealand and the America's Cup continued a tour of regional New Zealand with a stop in the Queenstown Lakes district.

About 250 people caught a glimpse of the cup while it was on display at the Wanaka Yacht Club.

Two younger members of the crowd, twins Finley and Campbell Melville-Ives (11), from Wanaka Primary School, spent their lunch break at the Wanaka Yacht Club so they could see the cup.

``I actually thought it would be bigger but it's really cool,'' Finley said.

Both were members of the yacht club and said they one day wanted to race in the America's Cup.

Team New Zealand chief executive Grant Dalton, who joined the tour yesterday, said taking the cup to smaller communities showed him and the rest of the team just how special it was.

``Because we're all from different small clubs over the country it's great for the boys to share their passion for the cup and Emirates Team New Zealand and see that passion shared with so many others.''

A lot of work had already gone into the next cup, he said.

``It's a funny sort of thing because today is remember the joy of what's already been done, and then tomorrow we will be back into planning, so it's good to have days like this because there's some hard days ahead.''

Wanaka Yacht Club commodore Jeff Mercer said the event could not have gone better.

``It's huge for both the town and the club. The wind has disappeared on cue, the food caravan has been a hit and we've had over 200 people here.''

Earlier the team was welcomed to Mount Aspiring College with a haka and members of the squad shared their experience of the America's Cup. The cup was then taken to the Wakatipu Yacht Club, where Queenstown people got a chance to see it.

The tour will finish with an event at the Bluff Yacht Club today.

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