Barker snuffs out Oracle's wind limit plea

10:57, Sep 21 2013
America's Cup gallery
Team New Zealand holds a slight advantage during race one.
America's Cup gallery
Team New Zealand in action during race two.
America's Cup gallery
Action from race two with San Francisco city in the background.
America's Cup gallery
Team New Zealand streak away to win race two against Oracle.
America's Cup gallery
Oracle in action during race two.
America's Cup
San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge was hard to see during America's Cup racing on Monday (NZT) with heavy fog blanketing all but its highest point.
America's Cup
Emirates Team New Zealand skippered by Dean Barker waves to the crowd after beating Oracle Team USA skippered by James Spithill in race five of the America's Cup Finals.
America's Cup
Emirates Team Zew Zealand races ahead of Oracle Team USA as they pass in front of Alcatraz Island and the San Francisco skyline during race 5 of the America's Cup Finals.
America's Cup
Emirates Team New Zealand follows Oracle Team USA around the first mark in race five on day three of the America's Cup 34.
America's Cup
Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand tack upwind in front of Alcatraz Island during race 5 of the America's Cup Finals on September 10, 2013 in San Francisco, California.
America's Cup
Emirates Team New Zealand skippered by Dean Barker warms up before racing against Oracle Team USA skippered by James Spithill in race five of the America's Cup Finals.
America's Cup
The foredeck crew of Oracle Team USA work on a head sail after losing to Emirates Team New Zealand during Race 5 of the 34th America's Cup yacht sailing race in San Francisco.
America's Cup gallery
Team New Zealand wave to fans after winning race seven.
America's Cup gallery
Team New Zealand and Oracle sail past Alcatrez during race seven.
America's Cup gallery
A view from above the Golden Gate Bridge during race six.
America's Cup gallery
Oracle cross the finish line well ahead of Team New Zealand in race nine.
America's Cup gallery
Team New Zealand and Oracle race in front of a giant cruise ship and the Bay Bridge during race nine.
America's Cup gallery
Action from race 10 of the America's Cup final.
America's Cup gallery
Team New Zealand lead Oracle during race 10 of the America's Cup.
America's Cup gallery
Team New Zealand crosses the finish line ahead of Oracle to win Race 11.
America's Cup gallery
Action from Race 11.
America's Cup
Team Emirates New Zealand skipper Dean Barker talks with his crew after the scheduled second race of the day was postponed due to high winds.
America's Cup
Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker celebrates after defeating Oracle Team USA skippered by James Spithill in race 11 during the America's Cup Finals.
America's Cup
Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker celebrates after defeating Oracle Team USA skippered by James Spithill in race 11 during the America's Cup Finals.
America's Cup
Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker celebrates after defeating Oracle Team USA skippered by James Spithill in race 11 during the America's Cup Finals.
America's Cup
Oracle lead Team New Zealand during Race 12 of the America's Cup.
34th America's Cup
Oracle and Team NZ speed past the Golden Gate Bridge during Race 12 of the America's Cup.
America's Cup
Team NZ chases down Oracle during the early part of Race 13, which was eventually abandoned.
America's Cup
Fog descends on the race course on San Francisco Bay as Team NZ awaits the start.
America's Cup
Team New Zealand cross in front of Oracle on the second leg in Race 13.
America's Cup
Team NZ and Oracle sail side-by-side before the start of Race 13, with the Bay Bridge in the backdrop.
Team New Zealand
Team New Zealand and Oracle compete during Race 13, won by Oracle.
34th America's Cup
Oracle take the lead in race 14 of the America's Cup.
34th America's Cup
Team NZ and Oracle race in front of the Golden Gate Bridge during Race 14 of the America's Cup.
America's Cup
Team NZ in action in Race 15.
America's Cup
Team NZ attempt to chase Oracle down in Race 15.
America's CUp gallery
Action from race 16 of the America's Cup.
America's CUp gallery
Action from race 16 of the America's Cup.
Ben Ainslie
Sir Ben Ainslie of Oracle Team USA walks off the stage from the dock-out show before going out to race against Emirates Team New Zealand in race 17.
Oracle
Oracle sails ahead of Team New Zealand on their way to winning race 17.
Oracle
Oracle celebrate winning race 17.
America's Cup gallery
An anguished Dean Barker with head in hands after the Team New Zealand lost race 18.
America's Cup gallery
Oracle acknowledge the crowd after winning race 18.
America's Cup gallery
Oracle streak away from Team New Zealand to win race 18.
America's Cup gallery
Oracle owner Larry Ellison celebrates after his team won race 18.
America's Cup gallery
Race 19 begins.
America's Cup gallery
Team New Zealand battles Oracle during race 19.
America's Cup gallery
Team New Zealand battles Oracle during race 19.
America's Cup gallery
Oracle wins race 19, completing an amazing comeback and retaining the America's Cup.
America's Cup gallery
Oracle wins race 19, completing an amazing comeback and retaining the America's Cup.
America's Cup gallery
Oracle celebrate after winning Race 19, completing an amazing comeback and retaining America's Cup.
America's Cup gallery
Oracle celebrate after winning Race 19, completing an amazing comeback and retaining America's Cup.
America's Cup gallery
Team New Zealand battles Oracle during race 19.
America's Cup gallery
Oracle celebrate after winning Race 19, completing an amazing comeback and retaining America's Cup.
America's Cup gallery
James Spithill celebrates with the America's Cup.
America's Cup gallery
James Spithill celebrates with the America's Cup.
34th America's Cup
A dejected Dean Barker waves to fans.
34th America's Cup
Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill raises the America's Cup.
34th America's Cup
Oracle tatician Sir Ben Ainslie drinks champagne from the America's Cup.
34th America's Cup
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison holds the America's Cup trophy aloft.

Team New Zealand threw out an Oracle proposal to increase the wind limits for the America's Cup match on principle - and also because the changes would benefit the defenders.

As the fans became frustrated by another weather delay hitting the schedule for the third day in a row, Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill played the sympathy card.

He said his team wanted to race in higher winds but Team New Zealand were preventing that.

It turned into a storm befitting the subject with Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker correctly pointing out that Oracle were trying to change the rules at the business end of a game that started two weeks ago.

And Barker emphasised the irony in Spithill's pleas now, when it was Oracle who wanted even lower wind limits when they were reduced by 10 knots to 23 knots in the wake of the Artemis Racing capsize that killed crew member Andrew Simpson in May.

Barker was in no doubt about what lay behind Oracle's sudden change of mind.

Advertisement

"You don't normally ask to change things if you think it's a disadvantage," Barker said.

"So I'm sure they probably feel strongly that as the breeze increases they might be going better and better."

Barker said they might have looked at the equation before the final started but they weren't prepared to budge now when they had configured their boat to suit the rules in place.

And that certainly wasn't going to happen with Team New Zealand sitting on match point, needing just one win to win the cup.
Oracle are clearly on the improve, winning by 31 seconds at the upper wind limit yesterday, leaving them needing seven more wins in their desperate fightback.
"We actually sent a letter to the Kiwis, saying we'd accept raising the wind limits or at least the fact that if you start a race you have got to finish it, you can't blow it off, because we think that would be better for the sport and people watching," Spithill said.
"But it takes them to agree with it. At the moment we are stuck with the wind limits and this is likely to happen again."
Any changes would also require regatta director Iain Murray to convince the coast guard they were suitable, something Murray admitted would be difficult.
Barker was happy to put Spithill in his place.
"It's quite an interesting point that James raises," Barker said.
"When the safety recommendations were being discussed, we were very much in favour of 25 knots. At that stage Oracle wanted it to be 20."
Those drawn out negotiations then agreed on the middle ground of 23 knots - still 10 knots lower than the limit set down in the original agreement made over two years earlier and on which Team New Zealand based their original designs.
"It seems a little bit strange that halfway through a series you think you need to change a wind limit that has been agreed when previously they wanted a much lower one," Barker said.
Barker said they had discussed Oracle's suggestion but felt the timing was wrong.
Reconfiguring Aotearoa at this late stage would also be time-consuming and not without risks.
But clearly Team New Zealand weren't prepared to start playing a new game that Oracle were getting better at.
"Prior to the start of racing, absolutely we would have agreed but we just don't think it's right to change it now.
"It doesn't seem right to change any rules halfway through a series. When you start a series, that's how it should be. We have set our boat up knowing what the wind limits are going to be and we don't believe we should have to change it."
Spithill was gung-ho yesterday, pumped by his victory. He wouldn't hear anything of suggestions these changes might be used to Oracle's advantage. Conveniently, his reasoning was camouflaged in the bigger needs of the event.
"We want to race, that's why we are here," he said.
"These are two of the world's best teams in sailing out there and you have a beautiful breeze in the afternoon and we have to come ashore.
"You asked yourself: what are we doing out here? But like I said, it takes two teams to agree and if these guys don't want to do it, then we will just keep thumping into this problem every day."

Fairfax Media