Ian Stewart cheerfully admits he can be a pretty demanding character. He also admits that he’s a difficult man to impress. He’s Emirates Team New Zealand’s logistics manager responsible for getting race yachts, workshops, spares and gear as well as people to and from regatta venues around the world.
For a professional sailing team, timing is everything.
The longer Ian can keep yachts and equipment operating at home base in Auckland, the better for team development and training. On the other hand, everything needs to be in the right place at the right time come race day. It’s a tricky balancing act.
Now it’s time for Ian Stewart’s confession: “We are a difficult customer. A lot of what we ship is out of gauge, high value and very fragile. My heart races when I see the race yachts sitting high on a stack of containers as the ship sails. We don’t have spares, but we’ve never had so much as a scratch.
“Without the Maersk people we deal with, life could be a nightmare. They are able to accommodate our every need. The service is very impressive - we have never even had to think about going elsewhere.
“I call Rebecca Stichbury, our customer services contact, with a problem and she finds the solution. David Gulik, Maersk Line New Zealand’s Trade and Marketing manager, makes it happen. It seems to me that for David and Rebecca, nothing is impossible.”
Logistics challenges galore
These days Emirates Team New Zealand is active on several fronts.
The America’s Cup World Series comprises two regattas in Europe and one at San Diego last year; one each at Naples and Venice and three in the US this year. Teams arrive at the venues complete with a working base – built into five 40ft shipping containers which provide office space and workshops covered by a tented roof which provides space for yacht and wing storage and a crew kitchen and cafe. When the regatta ends, the base, race boat, and chase boats are shipped to the next venue.
Ian is already planning the logistics of moving the entire team from Auckland to San Francisco in May next year for the America’s Cup challengers’ series and the match itself. “The team will be as self-sufficient as it possibly can be,” he says.
That will involve containerised work space for up to 125 people, two 72ft catamarans, chase boats, kitchen, ablution blocks, sail loft, machine and welding shops, electronics, rigging, and boat building workshop - up to 26 40ft containers in all.
The last word to Ian: “Without Maersk life would be very difficult indeed.”
Ian Stewart - A yachtsman of note in his time, with two round the world yacht races to his credit plus various other high-level regattas. Nowadays Ian’s active yachting is confined to supporting his children from the beach as they sail Optimists off Auckland’s North Shore.