War of Words
Billed as “The Friendly Regatta” by Team New Zealand Managing Director, Grant Dalton, the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series has caused a major upset in Auckland and it has nothing to do with court hearings or even on-the-water umpiring but over the sidelining of a talisman broadcaster by Television New Zealand.
Peter Montgomery with his immense following of Kiwi sailors has been dropped from TVNZ’s commentary team and this is making headlines in the NZ newspapers. “PJ,” as he is almost universally known is respected for his colorful descriptions and famed by his trademark “Liquid Himalayas”, and was seen by many sailors as, quite out of character, an Australian announcer calling the races in the film, “Wind”.
His following in New Zealand, where he also hosts a radio show on Radio 1ZB, is phenomenal and his name is as famous as any of the country’s better sailors. But, in a release issued by Television New Zealand, he has been dropped from its commentary team to make way for a younger group that includes Martin Tasker and Peter Lester, both of whom were in action in 2007 at Valencia.
But the Herald on Sunday led with a story that began: “Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton blocked veteran yachting broadcaster Peter Montgomery from covering the Louis Vuitton Pacific series. During discussions with TVNZ over coverage of the regatta, Dalton said he stipulated Team NZ would have a say in who covered the regatta.”
That allegation was refused comment in the TVNZ release. The company would not confirm or deny that Montgomery’s involvement in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Cup coverage was vetoed by Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton.
Antagonism between the two is generally acknowledged in the waterside fraternity of Auckland where it is understood to be deep-rooted. Montgomery was notably a Peter Blake supporter back in the days of the Whitbread Races when Dalton was one of his fiercest competitors.