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Shirley Robertson talks with Murray Jones - six times America's Cup winner

by Shirley Robertson 28 May 01:00 BST 28 May 2024
Murray Jones was a coach with Emirates Team NZ in the 2017 America's Cup in Bermuda © Emirates Team NZ

This month's podcast sees Shirley Robertson talking to New Zealand's Murray Jones about a remarkable career spanning over two decades chasing the oldest trophy in international sport.

It's a stellar career that's seen Murray on the winning side six times from seven campaigns, for several of the modern era's leading Cup teams, statistics that also put him into the America's Cup Hall of Fame.

Talking during a break in racing at the St Barth's Bucket earlier this year, Robertson starts the conversation with a chat about Jones' early life growing up in New Zealand, and how he soon starting making a name for himself in the 470 Class. A reserve in the Olympic team as a teenager, Jones' early career saw him part of a spectacularly talented generation of New Zealand sailors. For the national Olympic Team, medals soon followed, but two Olympic appearances in the Flying Dutchman class saw Jones disappointed with two top five finishes, but no medal.

Pretty soon though, the Cup came calling, and Jones became a pivotal member of the 1995 Team New Zealand challenger under Sir Peter Blake. Sailing as strategist in the 1995 San Diego America's Cup, Jones talks of hours spent up the mast of Black Magic, as the team went on to the defeat Dennis Connor's team 0-5, his recollections at times almost understated as he looks back on what was New Zealand's first ever Cup victory...:

"We'd just test the whole time, we didn't do any racing, we took the attitude that the Louis Vuitton Cup would be our practice racing and we were just fast and we basically sailed away from all the boats in the Louis Vuitton Cup and Dennis in the Cup. The fastest boat always wins the America's Cup!"

With the win in San Diego and New Zealand's successful defence of the Cup in Auckland in 2000, by the age of just thirty three, Murray Jones had twice won the most coveted trophy in sailing. But for the world of New Zealand sailing, unexpected events were on the horizon...: "Out of the blue, Russell (Coutts) rang me and said 'I want to talk to you about something, I've got an offer to sail for this Swiss guy for the America's Cup and...I'll do it with a couple of you guys, would you be in..?' It blew me away, I had no idea, I said 'Wow!' I hadn't even thought about sailing for any other country other than New Zealand. Anyway, I rang him up the next day and said 'Yeah, I'm in, let's see what happens!' "

Jones and Robertson then discuss how the New Zealander moved over to the newly formed Swiss Alinghi sailing team, the team that then went on to successfully Challenge for the 2003 Cup, winning the Cup from their old team mates at Team New Zealand.

It's a revealing insight into what was a fascinating time in international sailing, as Murray discusses the implications of the then controversial decision, joining a team that would ultimately see him go on to win two more Cups, in 2003 and 2007.

Post 2007, Jones was then at the heart of the Alinghi team that went on to lose the Cup in the much discussed Deed of Gift Match, a one of a kind race between two giant ninety foot multihulls, ultimately won by American Challenger BMW Oracle Racing

While the result of the Deed of Gift match saw Alinghi withdraw from the Cup arena for for over two decades, Jones's Cup career continued, with another move, this time to the Defender, BMW Oracle. Injury put a halt to Jones' career as a Cup sailor, but his continued involvement in the Team saw him as a pivotal part of the 2013 San Francisco campaign, his memories of capsizes, espionage, and inevitable tales of the impossible comeback are again fascinating.

Jones' final Cup campaign saw him back where it all started, coaching Team New Zealand to their eventual win in the waters of Bermuda, wrapping up an incredible seven Cup campaigns with another Team win, the sixth winning campaign of his career.

This edition of the podcast is in two parts and is available to listen to via the podcast page of Shirley’s own website - www.shirleyrobertson.com/podcast or via most popular podcast outlets, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast and aCast. The podcast is produced and written by Tim Butt - for further enquires, please contact .

Photos in this release courtesy of Alinghi by Thierry Martinez and Emirates Team New Zealand

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