Home' Greymouth Star : June 2nd 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
of the New Zealand Herald
I find ASB Classic tournament
director Karl Budge in the player
lounge under centre court at Roland
He is chatting to his former boss
at Tennis Australia Craig Tiley, who
just happens to be one of the most
powerful figures in the sport. Budge
is on his annual trip to the French
Open. He is only in Paris for a few
days, for ATP meetings, but of more
importance is the opportunity to be
seen, to press the flesh with player
agents, players, their coaches and
He will return to Europe for
Wimbledon a couple of weeks later,
racking up more frequent flying miles
on his third trip to Europe in six
weeks. He will go through the same
process again. The travel takes a toll,
even for a guy with more energy than
an energiser battery. But the rewards
are worth it if he gets the signatures
he is chasing.
His perseverance has paid off for
the women’s ASB Classic attracting
the likes of Ana Ivanovic, Caroline
Wozniacki and Venus Williams
and most recently his crowning
achievement, the biggest name in the
women’s game, Serena Williams.
For an International series
tournament with miniscule
prizemoney and minimum ranking
points in the first week of the year,
Budge’s achievement in lifting it to
world class status is staggering.
The challenge now for Budge and
perhaps his greatest challenge is to
achieve a similar result with the men’s
ASB Classic. But it is a much more
demanding task the week before
the first Grand Slam of the year, the
This year only three top 20
ranked players chose to play ATP
tournaments the week before the
year’s first grand slam, two of them
came to Auckland and one to Sydney
while Budge also signed Juan Martin
del Potro who succumbed to injury
prior to the tournament ’s start.
Budge secured top Frenchman
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga the previous year
but for the most part as good as the
players who regularly turn up at the
ASB men’s classic, they are not the
household names in the sport.
What becomes apparent as soon
as we sit down to chat is Budge has
the contacts, garnered from many
years working at Tennis Australia
and subsequently the WTA (women’s
tour) overseas before returning
to Auckland to head up the ASB
I try to start our interview but
Budge is immediately distracted as
ATP head Chris Kermode comes
over and the pair exchange greetings.
So what men are you chasing this
year I ask?
Budge glances across to see Rafa
Nadal’s coach Carlos Moya walk past.
He sits down behind us next to Uncle
Toni, Nadal’s long-time coach who
will step down at the end of the year.
Have you tried for Rafa?
“ Yes I have had the conversation,
again, and it ’s a no”. Roger Federer
also will not be coming to the ASB
Classic, but it does not stop Budge
from asking the question, as he does
of all the elite players.
“ You start off with your Roger’s and
Rafa’s and work back from there. You
always have an idea on the future.
There is a great group of young
talent coming through in the men’s
game led by Sascha Zverev who is a
superstar and will be top 10 by the
time the ASB Classic comes around.
(Dominic) Thiem will be a chance
of winning this tournament, Nick’s
(Kyrgios) obviously playing very
well. We have to combat the trend of
not playing the week before a grand
slam and that is my big barrier at the
What about Novak Djokovic I
ask? He has a new coach in Andre
Agassi, a different team around him,
could he finally be lured to change his
schedule and come to Auckland?
“ We are asking the question, I want
the best possible players playing, no
one’s off limits and I just want to get
into the conversation, I can’t do a lot
if ’s it a blanket no thanks and we
are having that conversation at the
moment (with Novak’s team). There’s
no one you can throw at me where we
are not having a conversation,” Budge
While most top 20 players prefer to
get to Melbourne to practise ahead
of the Australian Open rather than
play the week before, many also have
their price and will play given the
right sort of appearance fee. However
Budge points out money is something
they cannot really compete with.
“The dollars argument only applies
to a couple of players, I could offer
Roger Federer multiple millions of
dollars and he won’t play, likewise
Rafa and his team over there simply
won’t play. It’s not a dollars and cents
argument in the same way it wasn’t
“ Novak’s in the same bracket, we
will never match what he gets from
overseas, so we need to convince
them their best schedule is to
play Auckland in preparation for
Melbourne. If it comes down to
money we are not going to win those
discussions, we have done it pretty
well as a tournament the last few
years. We have to be smarter, more
nimble. We’ve got some ideas and we
are dangling the carrots out in ways
that are probably unique. We have to
do what we can to compete. ”
Nick Kyrgios is another target; yes
the temperamental but super talented
Aussie who used to be coached by
Tennis New Zealand’s new high
performance manager Simon Rea.
It is a delicate one for Budge who is
wary about ruffling feathers across
“ It ’s a conversation I have had with
them, where do the anger levels sit
if I make a play with Nick? I have
had a chat to his agent. His agent is
the same agent as Venus Williams
and obviously that relationship is as
strong as it gets, and I have made a
play with him. It would take a lot
for him to come and play outside of
Australia. Maybe he needs to have a
bust up with Tennis Australia again
and then maybe we can be in the
I sensed during our inter view that
Budge who has had built some close
relationships over the years with some
powerful people on the women’s tour,
has shifted his focus. Not in the sense
that he won’t chase the best possible
women’s field for the ASB Classic,
but in his ever present quest to be the
best, he is desperate to achieve similar
success with the men’s tournament.
“ We certainly won’t die wondering.
I don’t understand some of the push
back you get at times when you
come out and say you want to get
these players, I have no interest in
assembling a mediocre field. I want
to put together the best possible field
and I will start with Federer every
year and will work back from there.
“Five years ago it was unrealistic
that we would get Serena Williams
playing in Auckland and that
happened this year, five years ago it
was unrealistic that we would get
Serena, Venus and Caroline playing
in Auckland, and we did this
“ We have to keep trying. We have
shown we can do it with Tsonga,
Ferrer has done it numerous times
and so it does happen we have to
make sure we keep making the right
noises to the right people and make
sure we are in the position to strike
when the time is right. ”
I did not think Karl Budge would
ever get Serena Williams to play at
the ASB Classic, if anyone can get
one of the biggest names in the men’s
game to Auckland, he will.
10 - Friday, June 2, 2017
ASB Tennis Classic tournament director on a mission
ASB Tennis director Karl Budge with Caroline Wozniacki
A faceless fish not seen
for more than a century
has been discovered
among an array of
mysterious deep sea
creatures collected by
scientists trawling the
depths of a massive abyss
off Australia’s east coast.
The CSIRO and
scientists discovered the
40cm-long fish, which
appears to have no eyes,
during a trawl 4000m
below sea level in waters
south of Sydney.
including bright red spiky
rock crabs, spectacular
bioluminescent sea stars,
and gigantic sea spiders
as big as a dinner plate
have also been collected
— along with lumps
of coal, PVC pipes and
paint tins — during the
scientific voyage which
began on May 15.
The scientists are taking
part in a world-first study
of the abyss in an attempt
to understand more about
what lurks deep beneath
Chief scientist and
voyage leader Dr Tim
O’Hara, a senior curator
of marine invertebrates
at Museums Victoria,
says it is the first time the
faceless fish has been seen
in waters off Australia’s
coast since one was
picked up by a British
ship near Papua New
Guinea in 1873.
“This little fish looks
amazing because the
mouth is actually situated
at the bottom of the
animal so when you
look side-on you can’t
see any eyes, you can’t
see any nose or gills
or mouth,” Dr O’Hara
said via satellite phone
from the research vessel
“It looks like two
rear ends on a fish
On board for the
along Australia’s east
coast are 27 scientists, 13
technicians and 20 crew.
Each day a metal sled-
style device attached to
eight kilometres of thick
wire is carefully lowered
to the bottom of the
abyss to collect samples
of animals and sediment.
A video camera, also
attached to wire, trails
behind the ship to
record what lurks in the
murky depths where
temperatures are a chilly
The faceless fish is just
one of many specimens
that has amazed
“The experts tell me
that about a third of all
specimens coming on
board are new totally new
to science,” Dr O’Hara
“They aren’t all as
spectacular as the faceless
fish, but there’s a lot of
sea fleas and worms and
crabs and other things
that are totally new and
no one has seen them
There is also plenty of
“There’s a lot of debris,
even from the old steam
ship days when coal was
tossed overboard,” Dr
“ We’ve seen PVC pipes
and we’ve trawled up
cans of paints. It’s quite
“ We’re in the middle
of nowhere and still the
sea floor has 200 years of
rubbish on it.”
The scientists are due
to wrap up their research
voyage on June 16.
orm Davis’s life sounds like
something from a film script.
His career has ranged from
attack pilot in the United
States Navy and flying in the
Cold War and Vietnam War
to a much less adrenalin-
filled lifestyle teaching,
researching and farming in New Zealand.
Dr Davis, 81, who lives on the outskirts of Waimate,
outlined his 21-year stint in the US Navy at North
Otago Federated Farmers’ recent annual meeting.
Recounting his flying feats, including working on
the famed USSEnterprise, he said: “It may seem like
I’m boasting about it, but I’m not.
“ I’m remembering it.
“ You do what you’ve got to do. I’m not a hero, I flew
with heroes,” he said simply.
Dr Davis was just 17 and still at school when he
decided to join the regular navy.
Going through boot camp, he had the opportunity
to apply for the Naval Aviation Cadet programme.
On graduating, and on his way to work as an
aviation electronics technician, a lieutenant stepped
on board the bus just before it pulled out and called
out his name.
“ When I got off the bus, he said ‘you’ve got a week’s
latrine duty because you’re going to Pensacola, F lorida
to be a naval aviation cadet ’,” he recalled.
Never in his wildest dreams did he think that would
happen. But he entered the programme and received
his Navy wings in 1956.
His naval career was action-packed and filled
with adventure. His roles included flight instructor,
Antarctic navigator and pilot, attack pilot flying
Skyraiders, Skyhawks and Prowlers, flying in the
Cold War and Vietnam, and commanding offic e r.
When he got his wings, it was suggested he become
a flight instructor and that was what he did — getting
1000 hours of instructing in a year.
He then volunteered to go to Antarctica to fly
DC3s as he knew he would get his choice of duty
Most of the flying in Antarctica was in whiteout
conditions, including take-off and landing, and they
found new mountain ranges in the frozen continent
In 1957, Mr Davis was attending a wedding in
Christchurch when he met his future wife Annette
and “fell head over heels in love with her”.
He followed the teenager to Southland, where her
father farmed, and spent a week with her family,
proposing at the end of it.
The couple were married in December 1958 and the
newlyweds returned to the US.
In the 1960s during the Cold War, he flew
Skyraiders in the Mediterranean.
The mission was to fly low level below the radar —
about 60ft — just clearing trees, for about 11 hours,
to the Russian border and then turn around and fly
back to the ship.
Launching pre-dawn and landing after dark, it was
“absolutely amazing” flying.
When the Vietnam War started to “hot up”
and pilots were being lost at a fairly high rate, he
volunteered to replace one of the lost pilots.
He ended up on the USS Enterprise as ordnance
officer. USS Enterprise — nicknamed “Big E” — was
the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and,
at 343m, the longest naval vessel so far built.
Dr Davis joined Enterprise on its first combat tour
into Vietnam and it was a “baptism of fire”.
He could be awake for 36 hours straight — loading
aircraft, breaking out weapons and building them up
on the mess desk.
Once, Enterprise pulled in near Hong Kong and the
crew got ferries into town.
Dr Davis, who had been on about 30 days’ combat,
was “dead tired”.
“I got a hotel room and a six-pack
of beer, I went up there and slept
for four days,” he recalled.
After three years on Enterprise,
he flew combat off the USS
His stories were riveting, but as
he nonchalantly put it, “I think
there were about 20,000 navy pilots
at any one time.
“Everybody’s got a story to tell.”
Once, during his Antarctic duty
and on a flight to New Zealand,
the aircraft — with two new
engines — lost an engine halfway
between Hawaii and Kanton
Equipment — including
navigational radios — and clothing
were jettisoned in a bid to stay in
the air, along with dumping fuel.
As the tail went down at landing
on Kanton Island, the second
Books destined for wintering over
at Antarctica had all been heaved
out of the plane.
But one solitary survivor was
found behind a seat, ominously
called Don’t Go Near The Water.
He spoke of landing on aircraft
carriers; when heart monitoring
was done on pilots on combat,
it was found to be higher when
landing, rather than in combat.
One night, Dr Davis had
launched on a night bombing
mission when he lost his radio and
Not only that, but he could feel
something was burning his leg.
The cockpit was filling with smoke and he thought
he was going to have to eject.
He took his flashlight out and put it in his mouth so
he could see the instruments.
He pulled up alongside the ship and knew he had to
attract attention from on board. But he could not land
on board with bombs.
So he jettisoned his bombs “on safe” and dropped
them next to the ship before landing.
There was still smoke in the cockpit and his legs
were getting “damn hot ”.
All he could remember was being on the flight
deck. It transpired that the G-suit fitting had broken,
pumping 700degC air into the cockpit.
At one stage, John McCain — the Republican
nominee for the 2008 US presidential election — was
Dr Davis’s line division offic e r.
“He was a pretty wild bachelor at the time,” he
After a 51-year tour of duty, Enterprise had
its official inactivation at Norfolk Naval Station,
Virginia, in 2012.
Dr Davis went along and was assigned the chief
gunner’s mate to be his guide, a man who had spent
30 years in the navy.
Dr Davis explained to him what it was like to be on
the ship and then he explained what it was like for
During the tour through all the spaces he worked
in, he discovered he had been doing the work of three
division officers who, during the Gulf War and Iraq,
would “launch in one whole tour what we launched
in a day”.
It was a very serious time of his life and it had some
detrimental effects on his family, which was one
reason he left the navy.
Some had stayed, became admirals and “lost their
During his two decades in the navy, he did not
spend a three-month stint at home.
He readily acknowledged “family came second ”, but
he was “probably still here” because of that.
When he realised his wife wanted to return to
New Zealand with their five children, it gave him
time to realise what his career had done to his family,
something he had not fully realised until that time.
So he turned in his papers and asked for retirement
and the family returned to Mrs Davis’s family farm in
Asked how he coped with the transition from naval
aviator to farmhand, he quipped: “I found out sheep
don’t take orders.”
As a child, he spent time on a farm where he
learned to milk cows by hand and dig potatoes “and
do all the things you do on a general farm”, so he was
not unaware of that lifestyle.
He worked as a farm labourer for four years but
realised his salary was not enough to support his
family and he would have to do something else.
Due to his flying experience, he joined the local
aero club in Gore and applied to become a flight
Initially, the club did not want him, concerned that,
as a military pilot, he would be hard on his students.
Biding his time, he eventually got the job but car-
less days, introduced by the Government in July 1979,
had a big effect and he was often “sitting there doing
So Dr Davis applied to Massey University to study
He had previously been sent to the University of
Mississippi by the navy.
“Boy, that was a tough year. It was a survival course
for me. “ There were about 260 students taking vet
“Most were really bright kids just out of high
school; I hadn’t been to school for years.”
He had a job waiting for him, if he got through vet
school, as the local vet in Edendale had promised him
By the end of the year, he was placed 65th with a
B-average but he did not make it into the second year
as a B-plus or better was required.
But all was not lost as it was a “damn good start ” on
a science degree and he went on to complete a BSc in
zoology and MSc in zoology and parasitology at the
University of Otago.
While finishing his MSc he was “head-hunted”
by Menzies College which lost a science teacher
He was asked to stand in for the teacher until the
end of the year and so he did that while also doing his
A bonus was it was the early days of computers
being used and he was able to take the school
computer home to use for his research.
He also taught at Blue Mountain College in
In 1987, Dr and Mrs Davis moved to Waimate
where they have farmed and where Dr Davis also
taught at the local secondary school.
Keen to get back into research, Dr Davis applied to
do a PhD in duck itch.
During visits to his Bremner Bay holiday home
in Wanaka, he became interested in duck itch
parasites after noticing how miserable children were
getting from itching skin welts after swimming in
Over the years, he published papers and gave
presentations on it but despite completing his
PhD, was only involved in research on an “ad hoc
“This duck itch problem could quite easily be quite
a serious problem. There hasn’t been enough medical
research into the effect on humans,” he said.
Dr Davis’s interest in flying has remained — he is
chief instructor at Waimate Aero Club.
— Otago Daily Times
Farmer who f lew
in the wars
PICTURE: Otago Daily Times
Norm Davis at home in Waimate with faithful companion Maggie.
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