Please select your home edition
A_RS_Areo 728x90 TOP

America's Cup: The Voice of the America's Cup calls Edition 13

by Suzanne McFadden 15 Mar 00:56 NZDT 15 March 2021
Peter Montgomery interviews Peter Blake with Russell Coutts after the 1995 America's Cup win in San Diego. © Montgomery archives

Peter (PJ) Montgomery is thriving in his 13th America’s Cup - 41 years after covering his first Cup regatta in Newport, Rhode Island, when Dennis Conner's Freedom defeated James Hardy's Australia in 1980.

Next week, Montgomery will be inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame, which has its physical address in the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Rhode Island. He’s only the sixth ‘chronicler’ to join the hallowed hall, usually reserved for Cup sailors, designers, boat builders and syndicate bosses.

It’s not only for his services to broadcasting, and making the America’s Cup understandable for millions of land-lubber fans around the globe. He also helped convince Sir Michael Fay to enter the first New Zealand campaign in Fremantle in 1987. “He still says to this day, ‘You cost me a whole lot of money PJ’,” Montgomery laughs.

Although he retired eight years ago from his regular radio gigs hosting weekend sports shows and roaming the rugby sidelines with a microphone at Eden Park, he keeps getting called back to call the America’s Cup.

“It’s a bit like riding a bike, you remember what to do,” says Montgomery, now in his late 70s.

Anchoring the radio commentary for Gold AM, Newstalk ZB and iHeart Radio, Montgomery’s studio isn’t big, but it’s welcoming. The glass doors are flung open so anyone can stop and listen, and watch the racing on a TV screen out front. Policemen, St John’s staff and ‘city skipper’ volunteers stand under the pohutukawa trees watching Montgomery, wearing colourful spotted socks, in full flight.

It's fascinating witnessing Montgomery at work. He’s very animated - pointing at the bank of screens even though the listeners can’t see - and a master at getting the most out of the sailing experts he surrounds himself with. He never sits down.

His producer, Louis Herman-Watt, says in this America’s Cup, Montgomery has been “reinvigorated by his millennial sidekick”, Kiwi international match racer Chris Steele.

Montgomery invites Steele to give his expert opinion with a quick tap on his shoulder, then asks him to explain to “the little old lady in Riverton” why Team NZ have tacked away from Luna Rossa.

He calls in guest commentators like American Magic helmsman Dean Barker and round-the-world sailor Bianca Cook, and phones old friends out on the racecourse, like former Team NZ sailor Dan Slater and wind guru Jon Bilger, to recount what they’re seeing.

Over the years he’s had some of the Cup’s great sailors as his wing men – winning helmsmen Buddy Melges and Ed Baird (who’ll also be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday), Sir Russell Coutts and Spithill. If it wasn’t for Covid-19, he would have had American sailing legend Gary Jobson doing expert analysis this time, “but this is the first Cup he’s missed since 1964”, Montgomery explains.

“But I’ve really enjoyed working with younger people this time.” A voracious reader, he knows it’s critical to stay current as sailing evolves, especially when you’re trying to paint a picture of never-seen-before foiling monohulls.

“This Cup has been interesting with these incredible flying machines,” he says. “But I’ve been frustrated that with the lockdowns and the whole Covid pandemic we haven’t had the international flavour."

He’s also disappointed by “people who make a sport out of knocking the America’s Cup.” As we sit on the edge of the Viaduct, watching kids leaping into the water, he points out “this was a cesspit in the early '90s, and thanks to the America’s Cup in 1995 and Blake’s vision, Auckland finally has a front door we can be proud of.”

He’s impressed by the AC75s - “when the breeze is up and they’re going, they are spectacular” – but he misses the 12m and IACC Cup boats where you could see the crews at work, particularly the bow and pit men like Team NZ's Joey Allen and Matt Mason.

“Now all you see is the helmets of the guys in the afterguard. What are the rest of them doing?” he says. “The grinders are as aerobically fit as any of the martial arts guys, and all they generate through their grinding is somehow stored. You can see a bunch of TV sets behind Burling, does that allow him to see what’s happening down to leeward?

"There are a lot of secrets that we’re missing out on. That’s the shame to me.”

For the full story click here

A look back at 41 years of America's Cup and sports broadcasting

Related Articles

Gladwell's Line: Pressing ignition on pro-sailing
The sail racing world is spluttering back into life after over 12 months of being hostage by COVID The sail racing world is spluttering back into life after over 12 months of being hostage to the COVID pandemic - here's a look at how SailGP and the America's Cup coped, plus the 2024 Olympic event quandary. Posted on 6 May
American Magic ready to sail with 7-8 days notice
American Magic's Terry Hutchinson says they are all ready to go sailing at 7-8 days notice American Magic's Terry Hutchinson says the AC36 Challenger are all packed and ready to go sailing at 7-8 days notice, if the next venue is Auckland, otherwise they will head back to the USA. Posted on 3 May
SailGP Bermuda: Dramatic onboard collision video
Dramatic video footage shot from on-board Japan SailGP as their courses intersected with USA SailGP Dramatic video footage shot from on-board Japan SailGP as their courses intersected with USA SailGP on Leg 3 of Race 4 of Day 2 of SailGP Bermuda. Nathan Outteridge describes how it unfolded. Posted on 26 Apr
ACHof: Induction of Peter Montgomery and Ed Baird
America's Cup Hall of Fame: Induction of Peter Montgomery and Ed Baird On March 19, 2021, just a couple of days after the Emirates Team New Zealand successfully defended the America's Cup, the America's Cup Hall of Fame held an Induction Ceremony to welcome broadcaster PJ Montgomery and America's Cup winner Ed Baird Posted on 22 Apr
America's Cup: Luna Rossa's control systems outed
AC36 Challenger Luna Rossa explain how their systems work and the rules that govern their use Handling a boat like the AC75 requires the use of sophisticated management and control systems actioning a compact network of valves and pistons. Here Luna Rossa explain how their systems work and the rules that govern their use Posted on 14 Apr
Coutts more confident of SailGP Bermuda proceeding
SailGP needs COVID dispensations for Bermuda event to proceed on schedule Russell Coutts, CEO of SailGP has told Bermuda Tonight that he is more confident of the first regatta in the 2021 circuit getting underway as scheduled, despite there being only 10 days left until the scheduled start on April 24. Posted on 14 Apr
SailGP: Bermuda goes into seven day lockdown
Bermuda will enter a "shelter at home" policy, ending after the start of SailGP Round 2 It has been announced in Bermuda that the island will enter a "shelter at home" policy for the next seven days at least. The Premier says no exceptions will be made for SailGP for training or racing. Posted on 12 Apr
36th America's Cup put under the microscope
The international broadcast team for 36AC give their take on the breakpoints of regatta Key moments and analysis on the 36th America's Cup. This includes several interviews with key team members on their recollections of some of the more spectacular incidents, which were glossed over at the time due to the pace of the event. Posted on 10 Apr
America's Cup: Gulf Wars - your record of 36AC
A souvenir record of the regattas of the 36th America's Cup is now on sale across all regions A souvenir record of the regattas of the 36th America's Cup is now on sale in New Zealand, and available internationally published just over a week after racing concluded in the 36th America's Cup. Posted on 31 Mar
America's Cup: Two feet
A unit of measurement, avatar and a couple more often helpful in sailboat racing It can be a unit of measurement. Also the very extremities you use for balance when standing up. Then on March 5 this year, we saw that they can even belong to an avatar assisting you and your cause via reinforcement learning. Posted on 28 Mar
RS Quest 728x90 BottomDoyle Sails 2020 - Cruising Confidence 728x90 BOTTOMSeafarer 3_Bottom 728x90px