Dean Barker: 'So close and yet so far'

10:37, Sep 21 2013
Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club
Team New Zealand fans at the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club in Wellington look disappointed as Race 13 is abandoned.
America's Cup
John Hebberd and Dawn Carter check the time during the first attempt at Race 13, which was abandoned, at the Tasman Bay Cruising Club.
America's Cup
Spectators react as the race is abandoned with Team NZ comfortably leading.
America's Cup
Two Team New Zealand supporters react during Race 13.
America's Cup
Disappointment is obvious on the faces of Team NZ fans as the first attempt at Race 13 is called off.
America's Cup
Ella, 11 and Matt Wood, wait at the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club in Wellington on Sunday the for the delayed start to race 14 of the America's Cup.
America's Cup
Ben Amor watches Oracle beat team New Zealand in race 14 of the 34th America's Cup at Wellington's Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club.
America's Cup
Tina Norris, left, and Cheryl barber watch Oracle beat team New Zealand in race 14 of the 34th America's Cup at Wellington's Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club.
America's Cup
Tania Loughlin watches Oracle beat team New Zealand in race 14 of the 34th America's Cup at Wellington's Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club.
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In New Plymouth, Joanne Pierce and Kevin Kerr anxiously watch this morning's racing.
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In Hamilton, Waikato University students Alyce Michell, left, and Rachel van Rossen watch today's races.
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In Christchurch, Naval Point Yacht Club members watch the yachting. John Cullens, left, Neil McKellar and Rob Angelo
America's Cup
In Christchurch, Naval Point Yacht Club members watch the yachting. John Cullens, left, Neil McKellar and Rob Angelo
America's Cup
It's all too much for this fan at Auckland's Shed 10.
America's Cup
It's all too much for this fan at Auckland's Shed 10.
America's Cup
It's all too much for this fan at Auckland's Shed 10.
America's Cup
It's all too much for this fan at Auckland's Shed 10.
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It was nail-biting stuff during races 14 and 15 for these fans at Auckland's Shed 10.
America's Cup
Tension was high for fans, like this one at Auckland's Shed 10, during races 14 and 15.
America's Cup
Brenda Herd, at Wellington's Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, watches Oracle beat team New Zealand in race 16 of the 34th America's Cup.
America's Cup
Mike West, left, and Dave Roberts, at Wellington's Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, watching Oracle beat team New Zealand in race 16 of the 34th America's Cup.
America's Cup
Jeremy Johnson, at Wellington's Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, watching Oracle beat team New Zealand in race 16 of the 34th America's Cup.
America's Cup
Toyota NZ employees watch Oracle beat team New Zealand in race 16 of the 34th America's Cup.
America's Cup
Fans at Auckland's Shed 10 watch in disbelief as Oracle beat Team New Zealand in race 16 of the America's Cup off San Francisco.
America's Cup
Fans at Auckland's Shed 10 watch in disbelief as Oracle beat Team New Zealand in race 16 of the America's Cup off San Francisco.
America's Cup
Fans at Auckland's Shed 10 watch in disbelief as Oracle beat Team New Zealand in race 16 of the America's Cup off San Francisco.
America's Cup
Fans at Auckland's Shed 10 watch in disbelief as Oracle beat Team New Zealand in race 16 of the America's Cup off San Francisco.
America's Cup
Fans at Auckland's Shed 10 watch in disbelief as Oracle beat Team New Zealand in race 16 of the America's Cup off San Francisco.
America's Cup
Fans at Auckland's Shed 10 watch in disbelief as Oracle beat Team New Zealand in race 16 of the America's Cup off San Francisco.
America's Cup
Fans at Auckland's Shed 10 watch in disbelief as Oracle beat Team New Zealand in race 16 of the America's Cup off San Francisco.
America's Cup
Fans at Auckland's Shed 10 watch in disbelief as Oracle beat Team New Zealand in race 16 of the America's Cup off San Francisco.
America's Cup
Fans at Auckland's Shed 10 watch in disbelief as Oracle beat Team New Zealand in race 16 of the America's Cup off San Francisco.
Team NZ fans
The tension shows on faces of the fans at Shed 10 as race 17 starts disastrously for Team NZ.
America's Cup fans
Nothing for it but to hide behind a flag as a disastrous start effectively ends Team NZ's hopes in race 17.
Team NZ fan
It really is this excruciating. A fan grimaces at Naval Point Yacht Club in Lyttelton as Oracle wins race 17.
Team NZ fans
Why do we put our children through this? Twins Flynn and Ari Menzies, 5, hang their heads at Port Nicholson yacht club in Wellington as Oracle take race 17.
Team NZ fans watch America's Cup
The body language says it all. John Cullens and Willie Newman look disappointed as Oracle take race 18.
AC1
HIGH TENSION: Katie Hakes hopes for the best at the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club on Wednesday.
AC nicci
Nicci Wood watches on nervously at the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club.
Team NZ fans watch America's Cup
A disappointed Wellington City Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer watching race 18 of the Americas Cup at the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, Wellington.
Team NZ fans watch America's Cup
Bundle of nerves. Nicci Wood watching race 18 at the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, Wellington.
Team NZ fans watch America's Cup
Let's hope she's good luck. Lucinda Howard, 2, sits with a replica America's Cup.
Team NZ fans watch America's Cup
Initital excitement shows as Dave Roberts, John Hunt and Nicci Wood watch team NZ lead at the start of race 18.
Team NZ fans watch America's Cup
A truckie shows his support for Team New Zealand.
Team NZ fans watch America's Cup
Fans at Auckland's Shed 10 do a haka ahead of the final America's Cup race.
Team NZ fans watch America's Cup
Oracle fans at Auckland's Shed 10 ahead of the final America's Cup race.
AC nicci
Anna Sisley, middle, and Brenda Herd, right, watch the final race of the America's Cup at Wellington's Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club.
Paddy Lewis at Christchurch's Naval Point Yacht Club watches the final race of the America's Cup.
AC nicci
Anndy Crisp watches the final race of the America's Cup at Wellington's Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club.
America's Cup fans
Naval Point Yacht Club in Christchurch make a toast to the America's Cup after the final race.
Team NZ fans watch America's Cup
A fan at Auckland's Shed 10 battles to watch the final America's Cup race.
Team NZ fans watch America's Cup
Samantha Dalzell-Matthew at Auckland's Shed 10 battles to watch the final America's Cup race.
Team NZ fans watch America's Cup
Neeraj Lala (Toyota NZ head of marketing) watching and reacting to the America's Cup final race at the Toyota NZ headquarters in Palmerston North.
Team NZ fans watch America's Cup
Auckland mayor at Auckland's Shed 10 Len Brown applauds after the final America's Cup race.

"So close and yet so far" - that was stunned skipper Dean Barker's reaction as Team New Zealand suffered a gutting setback, having the America's Cup snatched from them by the timekeeper.

Their quest to nail the trophy was again spoiled on match point - first by light winds and then by a dogged Oracle team.

The 13th race on a Friday in San Francisco proved to be incredibly unlucky for the Kiwis.

Team New Zealand
AGONY CONTINUES: A race against the clock cost Team New Zealand America's Cup glory today.

They had the race and the Cup as good as won as they enjoyed a 1200m lead in the first race but couldn't complete it within the 40-minute time limit.

Regatta officials abandoned racing as the Kiwis approached the last mark with the finish line just one final beat away and Oracle almost three minutes behind, struggling with no wind and gear failure.

Then, in the restarted race, Team New Zealand made two mistakes which allowed Oracle to stretch out to a 1min 24s victory to keep a pulsating match alive, fully brimming with intrigue.

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The day ended with New Zealand still looking for the one elusive win to nail this thing while Oracle now need six more victories to hold on to the Auld Mug.

It was the fourth day in a row the Kiwis had been denied an opportunity to claim the treasured trophy.

"What can you say?" asked a stunned Barker at the end of another dramatic day.

"It's difficult ... to be that close but so far away. Sometimes it's just not meant to be."

Barker admitted they had made mistakes on the restarted race.

They copped a penalty after jibing in front of Oracle on the first downwind run and then got squeezed out at the bottom mark, in what was undoubtedly the telling moment.

"That was very frustrating ...just a couple of metres at the bottom mark. We gave them an opening. It was very frustrating we didn't get around the bottom in front."

Barker said the day threw up difficult conditions which he felt they had handled well particularly in the first race when they had been so dominant.

"It's tough conditions ... about as tricky as the bay as been since we have been here, to be honest. There were 50-degree (wind) shifts out there."

Barker said thee was no panic in his camp.

"We know we can do it. We just have to put a good race together."

They'll also need some luck, the way the weather gods are lining up against them.

After having two races abandoned while leading during high winds and then this light-airs setback, the momentum continues to build towards the defenders who are loving every minute of it, having won the last two races when they were facing total elimination.

Oracle tactician Ben Ainslie didn't budge when asked about the get out of jail card they got handed by the timekeeper.

"We were staring down the barrel of defeat there and time saved us," Ainslie said.

Naturally, Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill was cock-a-hoop as his remarkable comeback continued, albeit with a huge dollop of luck.

"Sometimes a couple of things go your way and you have to take them," Spithill smiled after getting a second chance today.

He was crowing about the win in the rematch, as always looking for a psychological edge in this war of attrition.

"What a fantastic race. What a fantastic day of racing. It was great work from our guys.

"Ben made a great call at the bottom and that was the win there and then."

Given that almost two races were completed today, there was no opportunity to start race 14.

That now runs over till tomorrow when another doubleheader is planned.

The coming weather conditions could be interesting with a cold front - the first of the autumn season here - due to cross the coast.

What that dishes up is anyone's guess.

Regatta director Iain Murray is getting concerned at the non-stop nature of the schedule now as he tries to complete the regatta.

It is due to finish on Tuesday (NZ time) if it goes the distance. But if there are more weather delays it will be run till the bitter end regardless.

Team New Zealand can finish it quickly, or Oracle can continue to drag this out - with the weather gods on their side.

Murray's worries are the toll that is being taken on bodies and boats with this endless cycle of racing that has eaten into every available lay day since Monday and must push on without any breaks if the schedule is adhered to.

He will talk to the teams about their view on the scenario and see if they want to get a break for some boat maintenance.

"I would like to have a discussion with the crews about what they are feeling," Murray said this morning.

"Are the crews up to racing these boats? Are there maintenance issues starting to appear? Are they on top of all that?

"The last thing we want to do is end this with an accident."

Team New Zealand changed grinders between the restarted race today with Winston Macfarlane making way for team boss Grant Dalton.

Oracle, with all their boat development and testing on last week's lay-days have only had one day off the water since this gripping final started.

That's an incredible endurance run.

Murray said the way the teams were racing the giant catamarans brought pressures on boats and crews that needed to be looked at.

"We do have to keep in mind these are exceptionally high performance boats. They have been put through probably more than anything we anticipated with the way they are throwing them around in the tacks, the jibes, the loads foiling around the bottom marks ... extraordinary things are happening with these boats."

Murray said he wasn't "being blindfolded" by the competition that has enthralled viewers.

"One of my endeavours is to get this event completed as well as we can but to keep the safety of the crews foremost," Murray said.

"It's all very easy to lose sight of the fact that these guys are doing unbelievable things in bringing us some incredible races.

"But as you saw with New Zealand we have had a nosedive and a near-capsize ... an accident is only fractions of a degree or seconds away .... or a minor something not happening.

"We don't want to lose sight of the fact that we are being over-run by putting boats out there that aren't getting the maintenance.

"At some stage ... it's unrealistic to think you can sail these boats every day in strong winds and take them home and not need a day to catch up."

The disappointment was written on the faces of thousands of people who had forgone a sleep in to watch the Americas Cup on Auckland's Waterfront this morning

For the first time since racing began both Shed 10 and The Cloud were open and both were jam packed with supporters, many who had queued from as early as 6am in order to get a good spot.

Among those watching were Sarah-Jane Blake, the daughter of the late Sir Peter Blake; Auckland mayor Len Brown, musician Dave Dobbyn and friends and families of both sailors and boat builders.

Oracle's win was met with polite applause, a far cry from the cheering when it was thought Emirates Team New Zealand was winning the first race.

Fans said they felt "gutted".

One said "we should have won it the first time round. I am broken I am speechless, I am nearly crying."

"The second race was absolutely gut wrenching. When we led across the start we actually thought we had it nailed and for those guys to dodge a bullet and come back like that it was just heart wrenching."

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