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Breakfast with Frost
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST
INTERVIEW:
PETER HARRISON
NOVEMBER 17TH, 2002

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST:
Yacht racing has been described as being like standing under a cold shower tearing up fifty pound notes. Well that's certainly true when it comes to the world's most prestigious yachting competition - the America's Cup. Peter Harrison is the man who has spent more than 20 million pounds of his own money paying for the first British challenge in 15 years and he joins me now, live from the quayside in Auckland, New Zealand. Peter, good morning, or good evening.

PETER HARRISON:
Good morning, David, it's good evening here, of course.

DAVID FROST:
Absolutely. What's the latest news on the progress, in terms of the eliminator races?

PETER HARRISON:
We've been out on the water today but the weather's been too strong so no racing today and at the moment we're in the quarter finals against New York yacht club Team Dennis Conner, they've got three races, we've got one, and it's the best of seven or first to four. So the next race is obviously a must win and we've got three to go.

DAVID FROST:
And when is the next race Peter?

PETER HARRISON:
Well subject to weather, and it's not good forecast tomorrow, I understand, and probably, so it could be Tuesday or Wednesday.

DAVID FROST:
And tell us about the boat itself, because in fact you've got two boats there, haven't you?

PETER HARRISON:
I've got two boats. I mean I had sold my businesses in August 2000 and I decided to give myself a new project - I'm a sailor myself, not at this America's Cup level, so I decided to put a Great Britain team back. I mean we haven't been in it for 15 years, we've now got 119 people in the team, there's a very, very high technology sort of design element and we've got 34 sailors and we've got two boats - White Lightning, GBR70, and White Magic, GBR78.

DAVID FROST:
And in terms of the 119 people and so on, that figure of 20 million pounds, by the end of this challenge, as it were, will the bill be even greater than that?

PETER HARRISON:
Yeah, I mean at the moment we're probably in at about 25 mill pounds, of which we have about three mill from a number of sponsors and about 22 from me. So what I've done, my idea was to kick-start the getting of Great Britain back into what I call the world cup of sailing. Here we're sailing, it's the best of the rest of the world, and of course we've had good Olympic success and I want to build up on those particular skills and capabilities.

DAVID FROST:
So what are the odds for or against, with a score of 3-1 obviously you're the underdog at the moment.

PETER HARRISON:
Well, yes, I mean interestingly enough we've got two examples, I mean Team Dennis Conner, in 1983 when he was racing Alan Bond's Australia, they were 3-1 up and Australia won 4-3. So everything is still possible in that way. You've still got to win that fourth race. But there's no doubting, of course, it's quite a hard job.

DAVID FROST:
And in terms of the future, do you think if you don't - I guess if you won it this time you'd certainly want to go ahead - but are you tempted to do it again Peter?

PETER HARRISON:
Yes, I mean, I mean if we won it, it would be an enormous problem but it would be a nice problem to have because it takes a lot to mount a challenge. But the actual benefits to the economy here in New Zealand have been fantastic. So if we were to win it in the UK, not necessarily the challenge team get that but the benefit to the economy and tourism and all the build up at the marine industry and so on, but if you look at the examples of New Zealand, it took them three times to win, Australia took four times to win, so that really the idea of us coming here the first time and just walking through to win is a very big call. But what I'm trying to do, hopefully, with the performance we've had - we've won eight races, we've had two wins against Stars & Stripes already - that we'll bring hope to the various partner potential, sponsors and so on, in the UK and hopefully on the next challenge I can get continuity and get a joining of partnership with me and I will take the whole team forward from there on.

DAVID FROST:
And what is the magic of the America's Cup? Is it just like the Champions League, just the biggest of its kind?

PETER HARRISON:
In a way, yes. You know, it's rather like, you know, people, you know, wanting to buy or build a grand prix team and win a formula one grand prix. It's very similar to that because there's more people effectively in the crews and on shore, off shore I should say, and in the design team than actually are sailing the boat. Or similarly, I mean some people - I'm not a horse racing man - but some people spend a lot of money trying to buy yearlings to win the Derby. I'm a sailing guy, I'm an amateur, and it would just be a fantastic pleasure to do well in this great, in this America's Cup. We started it - I don't know whether you know the history, David, but we started in 1851, we lost it first time, we've never won it since. So that means to say we know there's a massive mountain to climb but all the team are doing very, very well.

DAVID FROST:
Well we wish you all the best with it Peter, it's a great venture and good luck with that next vital race. Cheers from here.

PETER HARRISON:
Thank you very much. Cheers, thank you very much David. Good wishes to everyone at home.

DAVID FROST:
I will pass them on. There you are you have those good wishes from Peter Harrison.

INTERVIEW ENDS
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