Crews wave off race director's safety concerns

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE IN SAN FRANCISCO
Last updated 05:00 22/09/2013
EMTeamNZ

A cruel day on the water today for Emirates Team New Zealand having the first race called off just minutes from the finish line in what would have been the 9th win.

34th America's Cup
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Oracle CEO Larry Ellison holds the America's Cup trophy aloft.
Team NZ fans watch America's Cup
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A fan at Auckland's Shed 10 battles to watch the final America's Cup race.

Shed 10 fans left gutted

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Team New Zealand and Oracle aren't listening to regatta director Iain Murray's concerned calls to enact a brief time-out to this monumental America's Cup match.

Murray is worried that the never-ending final is taking its toll on bodies and boats, expressing concerns about the safety factor as his racing schedule has been compressed by weather interruptions.

But like two prized heavyweight boxers, Dean Barker and Jimmy Spithill want to fight on.

Barker is desperate to deliver the knockout blow in the next round and Spithill doesn't want any breather to stop his momentum as he looks to go the distance and claim a majority decision.

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

"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."

Seven races have been lost to the weather and the vent is due to finish on Tuesday (local time) but could even push beyond that if Oracle can carry on their miracle.

Barker isn't about to back off now, believing victory must surely come.

"We're happy to just keep pushing on. The guys do an amazing job back at the base getting the boat fully maintained for racing the following day.

"You go through the processes of recovering for the guys on the boat. It's just a case of getting back out there and getting into it.

"There's not that much time to go anyway ... now I think it's just a battle all the way to the end."

Team New Zealand took the opportunity to get some breathers in last week on lay-days when they were in a more commanding position.

Oracle didn't have that luxury. They have been on the water every day except one, using their time off to work on improving their boat and their crew work.

Spithill says his crew are primed for this and thriving on it.

"I think it comes down now to all the work the guys have put in for the last two years. The physical training that these guys have put in to prepare for this race is up there with what NFL guys go through, and the top athletes in the world. That goes for both teams," Spithill said.

"Unless we have an issue with sickness or someone is feeling down, fatigue is not an issue for us."

Oracle have made only one change to their crew, the successful switch of tacticians with Ben Ainslie taking over from John Kostecki bringing better chemistry to their afterguard.

Apart from rotating Grant Dalton and Winston Macfarlane occasionally, Team New Zealand have stuck with their preferred crew.

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