New Zealand yachting hero celebrated

Thursday 26 November 2009, 7:45AM

By 100% Pure New Zealand



New Zealand yachting hero Sir Peter Blake is the focus of a major permanent exhibition due to open soon (12.12.09) on the Auckland waterfront.

Blue Water Black Magic: A Tribute to Sir Peter Blake celebrates the man who was New Zealand’s greatest yachting exponent, his leadership and achievements, world-renowned Kiwi design and prowess on the water.

In final preparation now, the NZ$9.5m exhibition charts a course through three levels of the new Voyager National Maritime Museum on Auckland’s Viaduct harbour - the site of Team New Zealand’s successful America’s Cup defence in 2000.

Priceless artefacts
Blue Water Black Magic brings together a wide collection of priceless artefacts including its gigantic centrepiece - the original America's Cup boat Black Magic which is suspended from the ceiling.

Also known as NZL32, Black Magic was the Team New Zealand boat that challenged Stars and Stripes in San Diego in 1995, wresting the America’s Cup away from its homeland.

Team New Zealand gifted Black Magic to New Zealand’s national museum Te Papa Tongarewa, and Te Papa has had a major role in setting up the exhibition.

The exhibition has the active support of the Blake family, and memorabilia includes the famous lucky red socks that Blake wore throughout the challenges. Blake’s appearances in the socks - a gift from his wife Pippa, Lady Blake - started a national red socks craze.

Life and work
Multi-media and creative interactive technology help recount Sir Peter’s life and work - a personal story that includes some of New Zealand’s greatest yachting moments while exploring elements of leadership and determination critical to success.

The exhibition also features a specially-made 80-minute video tribute, Blakey, which documents Blake’s path from schoolboy sailor to fearless leader.

Using state-of-the-art computer software, visitors to the exhibition will be able to design a yacht and see how their creation would perform on the water, try out as a virtual crew member or zoom in on the original Black Magic crew on board the boat.

The tribute also profiles other key players, innovative designers and thinkers from New Zealand’s boating industry.

Sir Peter Blake

Born in Auckland in 1948, Sir Peter Blake was a peerless ocean racer and passionate environmentalist. His remarkable achievements included completing five Whitbread round the world races, and leading New Zealand to victory in two America’s Cups (1995 and 2000).

After his retirement from racing, Blake worked for the Cousteau Society then captained his own boat, leading expeditions into Antarctica and the Amazon to film documentaries and campaign for the environment.

He was murdered by pirates in December 2001 during a two-month expedition into the Amazon.

Inspirational leadership
Blue Water Black Magic highlights Blake’s belief that setting and reaching goals was at the core of team achievement and leadership.

Lady Blake said part of the project's appeal was the encouragement it would give young people to work towards their own goals, through learning about her husband's achievements.

"Peter's positive outlook was infectious; people were attracted to him because he was confident and passionate about what he did," Lady Blake said.

The tribute captured the essence of those attributes and would be "a lasting source of inspiration for generations to come," she said.

NZL32 Black Magic
Black Magic appears as she was when winning the final race of the 1995 America’s Cup.

The yacht is suspended from the ceiling by her own rigging but has a reduced (two thirds) mast to fit under ceiling restrictions, and a replacement keel and bulb rather than the 20-tonne original.

To avoid swells from Auckland harbour ferries, New Zealand’s most famous piece of maritime memorabilia was barged into the museum late at night, lifted by a crane onto the wharf, then rolled inside through a demountable wall that allowed a mere 150mm space on each side.

Voyager National Maritime Museum
The Blake exhibition is part of New Zealand’s national maritime museum, which has just emerged from a major refurbishment and rebranding.

Voyager National Maritime Museum occupies several buildings on Auckland’s waterfront, including a major new extension on Hobson Wharf. The signature black quay-side building was designed by renowned New Zealand architect Pete Bossley.

The museum is dedicated to recording New Zealand’s great maritime achievements - from the early voyagers who peopled the country to its successes with every significant blue-water sailing trophy in the world.

It is also the only museum in the world to offer an actual water experience, with a fleet of three heritage vessels that take visitors sailing on the Waitemata harbour.

Blue Water Black Magic - A Tribute to Sir Peter Blake will open officially on Saturday 12 December.

Guests at the lunchtime event will include Blake family members - Lady Blake, Sarah-Jane and James - Prime Minister John Key, and school children from Bayswater Primary, on Auckland’s North Shore, which Sir Peter attended.