Emirates Team New Zealand Managing Director
‘One race at a time and never take anything for granted.’
When Old Collegian, Grant Dalton attended a Boys’ School Leavers’ Dinner a few years back, he told the graduating Year 8 boys that ‘there isn’t a lot of difference between dreaming and goal setting; be resilient when you dream, set a goal that is believable and if you earnestly work towards it, your dream will eventually be achievable; it may just take a while to get there….’
We sincerely hope that despite the recent disappointment, that Grant has one more America’s Cup in him - we’re willing him to ‘get there!’
Grant, along with his brother Graham, is a former student of both the Boys’ School and the College, graduating in 1974. His children have also attended Saint Kentigern with Ellie graduating from the College, Mack currently in Year 13 and Olivia having been at the Girls’ School.
In that earlier speech to the Year 8 boys, he readily admitted that he wasn’t that ‘academic’ during his time at school but sitting in class looking out across the Waitemata Harbour helped define his goals for a future on the water. He told the boys to learn to visualise what they wanted to achieve, write those goals down and put them somewhere where they could be seen every day. This is how he came to a life sailing down the mighty waves of the Southern Ocean and more recently racing in the waters of San Francisco Bay in his role as Managing Director of Emirates Team New Zealand.
Well known throughout the sailing world for his successes as a professional sailor, he began his competitive career at age eight, sailing P Class as a member of Maraetai Beach Boating Club. Over the years since then, Grant has sailed competitively on the world’s oceans, racing around the world seven times, the first five as part of the Whitbread Round the World Races, later to be called the Volvo Ocean Race. In 1995, he was awarded an OBE for services to yachting.
In 2003, Dalton was called in to restructure Team New Zealand after its loss of the America’s Cup to the Swiss team, Alinghi. His mission: to rebuild and revitalise the team and mount a credible challenge for the 2007 America’s Cup. The team came close to victory in Valencia in 2007, winning the Louis Vuitton Cup but it was Oracle that took away the America’s Cup that year.
Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) has remained one of the fiercest contenders on the international yachting circuit and at 56, Grant was the most senior member of the 2013 ETNZ crew. His position as Managing Director saw him in a dual role both on land and as part of the crew on the water. Sir Michael Fay, who challenged three times for the America's Cup in the late 80s and early 90s, said Dalton possessed the unique mix of sailing nous, business acumen and hard-nosed competitor. Grant combined his boardroom work with hard physical grinding at the ‘coalface’. He said he could not successfully run the team without spending time on the water with the team; it was just not an option.
As Grant, along with Skipper, Dean Barker and the rest of the ETNZ crew, headed out to their AC72 catamaran to race against Larry Ellison’s Oracle in San Francisco Bay each day, his relaxed, engaging manner amongst the New Zealand fans hid a steely determination. The nation watched as ETNZ raced ahead on the scoreboard in the early days until Oracle changed tack. In the final days of racing as the gap between the teams closed, our nation was on edge willing the team to win. Despite the loss of the final race, the surge of support from throughout the world for Grant and his crew of great sailors has been immense.
The final word goes to Oracle’s billionaire backer, Larry Ellison, ‘ America’s Cup without New Zealand – it’s just impossible to conceive of that. What a great team, what a great sailing nation.’ Grant was the driver behind this team. We’re proud of you.