Team New Zealand drown in sea of rival money
DUNCAN JOHNSTONE IN SAN FRANCISCO
America's Cup: What went wrong?Share your stories, photos and videos.
At least there was no "four more years" sledge from the Aussie captain this time.
But Jimmy Spithill's determined drive to demolish Team New Zealand could have far more serious ramifications for his opposition, and also the America's Cup competition.
Team New Zealand might not be around tomorrow, let alone in four years' time, when the next edition of Larry Ellison's cup is dished up.
This might be the end of New Zealand's cup dream altogether, unless some normality and reality can be brought into the equation.
The competition will be the poorer without the Kiwis, who have been the dominant force since the challenger series was initiated 30 years ago in Perth.
Without Team New Zealand this year, the cup would have been an absolute disaster.
They brought some competitiveness and commonsense to an event lacking both.
Yet, in the end, they were overwhelmed by the excesses that now dominate the oldest competition in sport, the showmanship and tinkerings that have robbed the event of some of its dignity.
For a while it looked like Team New Zealand may have outfoxed Ellison, as they started beating him at his own game in these hi-tech catamarans, which demand so much money, and so much ingenuity.
But, in the end, his millions were like a tidal wave the Kiwis couldn't escape. He found the best sailors and they got the best out of a tweaked boat.
As Team New Zealand boss, Grant Dalton, warned, the fastest boat will always grind you down.
But not even Dalton could have believed all of Spithill's fighting talk from 1-8 down could blow his team across the line. That it did, mixing good fortune - three New Zealand leads were denied by the elements - with superb sailing.
As a deflated Kiwi skipper Dean Barker said, credit where credit's due.
This must have been tough for Barker, because it's been tough for everyone.
They say there is no second in the America's Cup. That's true, though this second placing will long be remembered, because it came on the wrong side of the best comeback in cup history, and arguably, the greatest fightback in the history of sport.
It's not a category any skipper, any team, or any country wants to be burdened with. But that's the reality.
I've witnessed first hand a couple of All Blacks' World Cup heartbreaks - the extra time dropped goal from the Springboks in the 1995 final, and the capitulation to the rampant French in the semifinal four years later.
The nationalistic fervour that engulfed South Africa's win saw a torn nation unified in sport, while taking their first steps as a democracy.
The loss at Twickenham was unexpected as a huge lead expired. But it was quick, all done in 30 minutes, the alarming lack of resistance almost lost in the beauty of the French flair.
This has been far worse to endure ... water torture in its truest form. An Oracle comeback that seemed impossible becoming almost inevitable.
And the constant reminders that it was happening, coming from the brash Aussie, backed by Kiwi CEO turncoat Russell Coutts, and the American billionaire.
That was hard to endure.
The incredible comeback will overshadow many flaws in this event. And it will surely fuel another step in Ellison's revolution. Unless there is some sense to come with that, the Oracle comeback could kill the competitor they most need.
The All Blacks took a long time to bounce back from their World Cup defeats - 24 years of pain.
Team New Zealand might not be able to rebound from this defeat, which completes a decade of frustration.
They simply may not be able to afford to continue their quest.
- © Fairfax NZ News