It’s not often that TVNZ yachting correspondent Martin Tasker and his wife Claudia get to see their kids, now they’ve grown up and moved away. So, when the opportunity arose for a family reunion at the America’s Cup in San Francisco, Martin, Claudia, and their daughters Holly (26) and Vicky (23) all jumped at the chance. Now, the trip has become one of the most important of their lives.
Not only are all four family members working at the famous event, they are also figuring out how to juggle a family split, with both girls relocating to the other side of the world.
“I miss the girls terribly, but their mother finds it so hard – it’s desperate,” says Martin, who has had “no more than a handful” of days off since arriving in San Francisco in July.
“It’s so lovely having everyone out here and the family support. A lot of people don’t have anyone and won’t be seeing their family for months.
“Although Vicky is getting great experience here, she wants to move to Europe, and Holly is only here for a fortnight. As a family, our future will be decided in the next two weeks, which is something to really think about.”
“It’s awful – we hate not being together,” admits Tourism New Zealand international media co-ordinator and unofficial ‘Camp Mum’ Claudia, who is juggling looking after hospitality guests, her work with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and taking care of her family. She is also regularly found cooking for everyone else – from cameramen to guests – and, according to Martin, makes a “legendary shepherd’s pie”.
“When I was younger, I remember my own dad telling me that all he wanted for his birthday was for his kids to come home,” recalls Martin. “Now I know what he means. With the work we’re all doing, we still don’t see each other much. We try to eat together when we can – but I’ll take whatever I can get.”
Holly is on leave from her job in London as a MAC make-up artist at high-end department store Selfridges, and flew into the American yachting base just in time for her mum’s birthday – much to Claudia’s delight. But Holly is still hard at work, doing make-up at the Team New Zealand base, where the yachting elite congregates, in their bid to bring the America’s Cup back to New Zealand.
“She’s trying to make me look better on the telly – which is a real battle!” laughs Martin, who has been commentating on the famous yachting race for New Zealand since 1995.
Meanwhile, Vicky, who graduated in French and Spanish last year from Wellington’s Victoria University, has been gaining plenty of valuable work experience.
After volunteering for whatever was needed, the graduate has notched up nine different jobs during her America’s Cup OE, including helping celebrity chef Al Brown dish up 1200 lamb kasundi dishes, and modelling for shoe designer Kathryn Wilson. She’s now operating the virtual eye media screens on the hospitality boat, following the races from the water.
“It’s pretty exciting. My sister and I are so lucky to be doing something like this, and meeting amazing people you’d never normally get to meet,” smiles Vicky. “And it’s all because of Dad and his job.”
British-born Martin met Claudia, a Kiwi, when she was seconded from TVNZ to the BBC in Plymouth, where Martin was based. The pair moved to New Zealand when the girls were six and three years old.
It’s also because of Martin’s job, in which he is often away from home, that Holly and Vicky have caught the travel bug that’s taking them so far from home.
“I missed a lot of birthdays, let’s put it that way – but they don’t let me forget!” says Martin, who regularly cycles 30 minutes to and from the base and the family’s rented home.
“At one point he did a good line in keychains with our names on them from wherever he’d been – Vicky and I both have several of them,” says Holly. But it’s not just Martin who travelled.
“It started in 2007 at the America’s Cup in Valencia,” explains Claudia. “Martin was going to be away for four months, which we decided was too long, so we went with him.” And a lifelong love for Europe and other countries was born.”
“A lot of our friends are settling down and having children, and I know Mum would love us to stay put – but the fact is, our parents raised us like this,” says Holly.
“If you raise your kids to travel all over the world, that’s what they are going to do. But being here, all together, for a Kiwi event like this – it’s pretty special.”
When Martin met Tom
He has been around more celebrities than you could shake a stick at, but Martin Tasker counts his America’s Cup encounter with Hollywood legend Tom Cruise as one of the best.
“That was hilarious!” he says. “It’s that old cliché that it’s not the celebrity that’s the problem, it’s the people surrounding them.
As soon as he got away from the wretched minders, there’s a fantastic human being there.
He loved it. He went on the superyacht, then on one of the high-speed tenders. Then, out of the blue, it came: ‘Do you want to hop on the boat, go for a blast?’
There Tom was, with his son Connor, and the team were giving him so much stick, joking with him and asking him to mix cocktails.
We were told there would be no interviews, but I asked if I could have a word – and sure enough, no problem. Then the Cruise entourage left in a convoy of black Chevys with blacked-out windows. So Hollywood!”