Team NZ’s biggest fan
Team New Zealand’s selfproclaimed ‘‘biggest fan’’ is taking celebrations to a new level, getting Peter Burling’s name and a picture of the team’s catamaran tattooed on his shoulder.
Foxton Beach resident Gary ‘‘Gazza’’ Stewart said he was ‘‘so proud to be a Kiwi’’ when Team New Zealand won back the America’s Cup.
‘‘Well No 1, I’m a very mad sportsman, and I’m a very proud Kiwi.’’
The 72-year-old had been up at 5am on the dot each morning to watch his favourite team race against Oracle Team USA.
He would like to think he was ‘‘Team New Zealand’s biggest fan’’, but said there were thousands of passionate supporters.
Although not a yachtsman himself, Stewart said he loved all kinds of sport, and he and wife Bonnie had been supporters for decades.
Stewart threw a party for Tuesday’s final race, with about 20 people turning up in the early hours of the morning to support the Kiwi team.
A powercut just before 5am almost disrupted their plans, but they managed to watch the first race at a neighbour’s house and ‘‘celebrated with corks popping’’.
Stewart said the team had done well to bring the cup ‘‘back where it should be, where it belongs’’.
The following day he got ‘‘Americas Cup Is Now New Zealands’’ and a small picture of the yacht tattooed on his left shoulder.
The recent ink-etching sits opposite Richie McCaw’s name, which is tattooed on his right shoulder.
McCaw was the 72-year-old’s first tattoo, which he got during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
His wife had initially thought it was a stick-on, but realised a few days later that McCaw’s name would be there for life.
Despite his shoulders being decorated, Stewart said he had never been that interested in ink.
‘‘I’m not really a tattoo man, I’m just a keen sportsman.
‘‘I don’t know what prompted [the tattoos], to be honest.’’
Even though some people called him a ‘‘silly old bugger’’ for getting them, he said he was just so proud to see New Zealand doing well on the world stage and he wanted to share his enthusiasm for sport.
‘‘We are just such a very small country of 4 million people and we are very sports-minded.
‘‘I think this young Peter Burling has so much talent. From a young grasshopper he was very good.’’
He hoped Burling would be proud of the tattoo.
He wasn’t thinking of getting any more, but said that could change, depending on how New Zealand sailed at the next regatta.