The voice which inspired New Zealand
Published on March 29th, 2021
Attending hall of fame inductions is always a moment to reflect and appreciate the present, for it is the past that provided it. When Peter Montgomery (NZL) was inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame on March 19, his daughter Kate provided this worthy introduction speech:
When Bruno (Troublé) asked me to introduce Dad tonight he said I needed to keep it short. So I will now attempt to be the first Montgomery to speak for less than 4 minutes. We keep being told these are unprecedented times so miracles might happen.
If a picture paints a thousand words, I’ve always said dad’s motto is ‘I’d rather use the thousand words.’ But, honestly, what a picture he can paint.
His ability to bring his signature ‘light and shade’ to commentary has delighted fans for almost four decades, and brought so many new fans to sailing in that time. I can’t count the amount of times people have told me that he could make grass growing or paint drying sound exciting. As his daughter I might not always agree with that….but perhaps on light air days on the Hauraki Gulf while we ‘hurry up and wait’ he’s got pretty close.
His love for the Cup, for its history and its present is infectious. And it’s his ability to explain to sailors and landlubbers alike – speaking to the ‘little old lady with the blue rinse in Riverton’ that has made him synonymous with the America’s Cup. SO much so, that he’s known as the voice of the America’s Cup.
But you know all this. What you probably don’t know is how dedicated Dad has always been to his craft. The countless hours behind the scenes, spent researching or deciding on crucial moments, how a line should be said, and when it should be delivered.
I saw it in 1995 the night before ‘The America’s Cup became New Zealand’s Cup’. And in 2017, when I had the privilege of producing his radio show in Bermuda. Time and again I was stunned by his ability to find the right words for the right moment, and those signature ‘Montcommentary’ turns of phrase that he ad-libs out of thin air.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Dad is the reason New Zealanders, and so much of the world know about the Cup. Or even that New Zealand is in the Cup – after all, Michael Fay likes to remind Dad that his convincing cost Michael a lot of money in the late 80s. But I’m biased. So when I set out to write this speech, I outsourced some of it.
Fellow America’s Cup game-changer who is here with us tonight, BW (Bradley W. Butterworth) had this to say:
“His dedication to sailing has put New Zealand on the sailing world map, without him I am unsure if many of the big programs like Steinlager or the first challenge for the America’s cup would have ever got off the ground. PJ has been not only the voice of our sport but also priceless in getting it recognized and integral in where it is in New Zealand today.”
Russell Coutts said:
“When people ask me why NZ has so many good sailors I say, ‘Peter Montgomery’. The fact that he promoted the sport so well and with such an exciting tone of voice….well that’s quite simply inspired a whole generation. Seriously, without Pete none of Team NZ would have happened. His words and the excitement he created had a huge influence on my career as I’m sure it also did for many others.”
And another America’s Cup legend, and a dear friend of our family, Tom Whidden, asked me to read this on his behalf:
“Peter Montgomery is often referred to as the voice of the America’s Cup for New Zealand, but really he is the voice for the entire America’s Cup universe. He is well respected by every America’s Cup sailor I know.
“He began following and commentating for the America’s Cup when I began my Cup career in 1980. His extensive knowledge of sailing and the AC game is recognized around the world and has made him one of the top authorities in our sport.
“His distinctive voice and colorful enthusiastic commentary is infectious and always leaves you wanting more! In my mind, Peter has set the bar for all sports commentary.
“Peter’s rise to fame has paralleled New Zealand’s rise in America’s Cup dominance. At this point I can’t imagine one without the other. It has been said that Peter’s celebrity is often greater than the athletes he follows.
“I regret not being with you tonight to honor Peter alongside all of you. However, it is with great pleasure Peter to tell you how deserving you are of this honor and how very proud I am of you.
“But most of all I want you to know that you, and your wonderful family’s friendship, has meant the world to Betsy and me. And, I am abundantly honored to be your friend and to stand alongside you in the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. Congratulations!”
There’s an old saying, that ‘you should never meet your heroes’, but I’m related to mine. It is with immense pride and honor I would like to introduce the second inductee to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame tonight, my Dad, Peter John Montgomery.