Dean Barker: 'I just made a meal of the start'

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE IN SAN FRANCISCO
Last updated 12:41 20/09/2013
EmTeamNZ

Another race postponed because of wind today came after a tight first race which Oracle managed to hold off the attacking Emirates Team New Zealand.

Disappointment as race 13 is postponed.

Team NZ win
STILL WAITING: Team New Zealand have been left waiting once again after losing the first race to Oracle on San Francisco Bay this morning.

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Skipper Dean Barker put his hand up to take the blame for today's America's Cup loss, admitting he'd "made a meal" of a start that Team New Zealand were never able to recover from.

Oracle sped off for a wire to wire win, steaming across the finish line a massive 31-seconds ahead of Aotearoa.

With the second race again blown out because of high winds, Team New Zealand were left sitting on match point, needing one win to take the America's Cup. Oracle improved their daunting assignment to require a further seven wins to hold on to the Auld Mug.

With these boats now so even in speed, the start has become even more crucial and Team New Zealand showed that yesterday when they blasted away for a stat to finish victory.

Today Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill managed to produce some of his renowned aggression in the starting box and leave the Kiwis stalled in a position that proved an insurmountable handicap.

"Today I just made a meal of the start and put us on the back foot," Barker confessed.

"These guys are sailing well enough that you aren't going to be able to get past them. We have to be better than what we were today."

With the disadvantage of entering the starting box 10 seconds after Spithill, Barker opted for some aggression and looked to have got himself into a good position.

But just as quickly the Kiwis found themselves too close to the start line too early, and as they stalled Spithill managed to duck under and "hook" them.

He then accelerated off to a five-second lead at the first mark that expanded to 10 seconds downwind, 11 seconds in a tough tacking duel upwind, and then a blowout on the last run as New Zealand went looking for some magic on a course that offered nothing today.

Spithill was hugely encouraged by his team's win today, believing they had fronted with their best effort when it mattered most.

"We got off the line well and from there we sailed a really nice race. I think the way we sailed the boat was the best we have sailed it. There were zero mistakes," he said.

"It was a very satisfying race for the boys on the boat.

"If you get behind on a race like that, it's very difficult to find a passing lane unless someone makes a mistake in front.  Benny (Ainslie, the tactician) and Tom (Slingsby, the strategist) didn't allow any passing lanes."

Spithill, in his usual confident manner, suggested today's performance proved that it was going to be possible for Oracle to come back and retain the Cup.

Barker said there was no panic in his camp. They would put their heads together tonight to review the race and what improvements they could make to starting, sailing and boat performance. They'd come out tomorrow and look to get the job done then.

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"We are certainly very pleased with the way the boat is going and everything else. If we sail properly we'll give them a decent run.," Barker said.

"We said right from the start this isn't over until you win the final race. There are no gimmees out there ... you have to fight for every point.

"We are very aware that we have to race well to win races. Nothing has changed. We have a huge amount of confidence in the way we are sailing the boat and that if we sail well we'll win a race."

As for the wind blowout, Oracle suggested they were willing to race.

Team New Zealand don't believe the rules on wind limits should be changed now that the final is under way.

Without any agreement between the teams, nothing can be put before the coast guard to have the limits extended.

Another doubleheader is scheduled for tomorrow. Wind conditions are expected to be similar though a low pressure lurking off the coast for the first time in the regatta, could add a new dimension.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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