No sympathy for Team NZ from James Spithill
DUNCAN JOHNSTONE IN SAN FRANCISCO
The British knight expressed his sympathy but the Aussie Pitbull wasn't offering a crumb - and Dean Barker wouldn't expect anything else as his hand slipped off the America's Cup in frustrating style yesterday.
Team New Zealand saw a 1.5-kilometre lead on match point amount to nothing as the 40-minute time limit expired on them with the finish line in sight.
Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill accepted the get-out-of-jail card and duly rubbed Barker's nose in it, capitalising on Kiwi mistakes to claim the rematch by 1 min 24 sec and keep this absorbing final alive.
"All that effort for nothing," Barker lamented.
"It's difficult, frustrating ... to be that close but so far away. Sometimes it's just not meant to be.
"It happens all the time in other events when the breeze completely shuts down and you end up just drifting around. But it's hard to remember one that's going to be quite as big a deal as this one was."
Oracle tactician Sir Ben Ainslie was certainly gracious about the latest twist that keeps the defenders alive, still needing six more wins while Team New Zealand wobble away for the fourth day in a row, not being able to close out the match.
"We felt very lucky but we also felt for the Kiwis guys because we have all been in that situation where you have a hand on the trophy and you have to come back and do it all again," Ainslie said. "It's a tough situation to be in. We certainly felt for them."
Spithill, the red-headed Aussie, offered no condolences: "Sometimes things go your way. That's racing and that's sport."
He spoke briefly of the "fierce and crazy" trans-Tasman rivalry, which he explained to the American media, often brought friendship. But he made it clear where he stood with Barker, echoing a theme he has hammered for the last fortnight.
"The fact is, we are in a battle now and we honestly want to kill each other. That's sport ... we have a lot of respect for each other and it's one hell of a fight."
Asked to rate his aggression right now, Spithill didn't hold back: "I don't know ... 12, 15, 20? It's just full throttle for us, we don't have an option. We're doing everything we can. Things are going our way now and we're just trying to ride the wave of momentum and use it to our favour. It feels to me like it's starting to turn and the wave is slowly building.
"We believe we can win, it's as simple as that."
With a five-point cushion, Barker felt it was only a matter of time for his team, especially as they had been on the wrong end of race abandonments three times - twice for strong winds and one for going over time.
"You sort of say any one of those points would have been nice right now," he said.
"But there's no loss or confidence of lack of confidence. We know that we can easily get this done, it's a case of going out there tomorrow and racing hard."
- © Fairfax NZ News