There's Winning ... and There's WinningJul 03, 2007
I've never "bought into" competitiveness as a long-term successful way of life. At some point the urge to win will inevitably be too seductive a choice to ignore, even at the risk of ruining choices in the future.
Last night, my husband Rob and I stayed up last night to watch the finish of the America’s Cup; Team New Zealand racing against Alinghi (a Swiss yacht with a mostly New Zealand crew and New Zealand skipper).
It had been a tough race. Although the yachts were similar, Team New Zealand consistently pulled ahead with their better sailing skills. As they hammered towards the mark at the end of the first leg Alinghi pushed them off course, not breaking the rules but won the point by bending them rather than by superior seamanship. Then as the boats hammered towards the 3rd and last mark before the home stretch, Alinghi turned around and sailed at full pelt straight at Team New Zealand. “It’s like their attacking her!” exclaimed my husband, Rob. At the last minute Team New Zealand pulled out of the way. Then the umpire boat gave Team New Zealand a penalty, which meant that she had to do a full circle some time between then and the finish line. The commentator spoke of Alinghi’s skipper as a “Great skipper rather than a good skipper.”
Down the home straight, after putting Team New Zealand right off course with that tactic, Alinghi was at first in front, but Team New Zealand didn’t give up and were creeping in front when Alinghi’s spinnaker went out of control and blew her off course. While her crew were sorting that out Team New Zealand did their pirouette just in front of the finish line.
Then there was team New Zealand picking up speed again as they crossed the line, with Alinghi racing across next to them. It looked like a tie to us, but the clock said that Alinghi had won – by 2 seconds!
As we prepared for bed, I thought about the commentator's suggestion that the Alinghi's skipper was a great skipper rather than a good skipper. And I thought about Team New Zealand's skipper who didn't give up on superb seamanship despite this moral insult from Alinghi's skipper. Yes, Alinghi might have won by the clock and bending the rules, but Team New Zealand showed real grit, real resilience to keep doing their best right to the end despite so much being set against them ...
There's winning ... and there's winning ...
For me, the real winners were Team New Zealand. If I was looking for a crew to sail my yacht, I would choose these people, happy in the knowledge that they would have the sailing skills for the toughest situations.
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