Future of Team New Zealand entry is up in air
DUNCAN JOHNSTONE IN SAN FRANCISCO
The future of Team New Zealand is up in the air after their loss in the America's Cup final against Oracle today.
Grant Dalton, the syndicate's chief executive who picked the team up in the wake of the 2003 defeat in Auckland and took them to two finals - in Valencia in 2007 and here - believed it was too early to think about things in the raw moments of their latest loss.
"But I've always said if we didn't win today, it would be difficult to keep the team together, particularly financially," said the veteran, who had a grinding role on board Aotearoa. "There's probably a will there, but I've probably done my turn."
Dalton has been the guiding force for the team in terms of finding the funding. But at 56, it seems he doesn't have the energy for another go.
With the New Zealand Government putting $36 million into this campaign, clearly any future involvement will also be reliant on some form of public money.
Prime Minister John Key said it was too early to talk about funding.
"They I'm sure want to regroup and think about what their next steps are and we will want to have a discussion with them.
"But you'd have to say that over the course of the last few weeks the country has been absolutely gripped by what it's seen. It's really electrified the nation and in terms of New Zealand getting profile I think it's got a great deal of profile during both Louis Vuitton and the America's Cup."
Dalton said Team Zealand had never rested on their laurels during their epic match against Oracle despite their 8-1 lead. They had felt that was when they were most vulnerable because they knew Oracle had the spirit and resources to mount a fight back.
They had come close to nailing that vital last win a couple of times but it had frustratingly eluded them.
"No one ever thought time was going to run out on us when we were two minutes from the finish line. But the guys got straight on the horse straight away. We knew it was still race by race.
"I sensed that Oracle were coming at us and if we didn't close it out we were in trouble," Dalton said.
"We really looked at it a race at a time. We certainly never felt comfortable with our lead.
"Look at them the last couple of days - they were a minute and a half faster up that beat than they were a week ago. They did an amazing job of turning it a round."
Dalton said the team could be proud of their effort and he had a special word for his skipper Dean Barker who has had to front the media over the last 10 days as Oracle kept clinching races and edging back to take the final to a 19th and final day.
"Dean is a class act," Dalton said.
"He's pretty emotional; the guys are rallying around him. He's given it his everything, as we all have, but we were beaten in the end by a faster boat."
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