Team NZ skipper Barker takes big loss on chin
DUNCAN JOHNSTONE IN SAN FRANCISCO
Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker is braced for the inevitable backlash that will come with defeat after surrendering such a big lead in the America's Cup.
He and boss Grant Dalton know the "choking" tag is circulating at home. Dalton admits they had opportunities to secure the Auld Mug but felt they fought to the end, despite seeing an 8-1 lead slowly evaporate, Oracle winning the last eight races to hold on to the cup.
"I have no doubt that there will be plenty of people that will express their views on the final outcome and how it all happened," Barker said.
"But I think in a lot of ways we were very fortunate to get to eight [wins]. At the start of the event Oracle had a different capability and performance to where they finished.
"They learnt a lot very quickly about their performance. We saw in the last couple of days, the last couple of races, where we had leads and they just sailed around us.
"They were faster. Unfortunately in the America's Cup faster boats tend to win."
The straight-shooting Dalton did not back away from the choking accusations.
"It's a fair question because I have asked myself that question," he said.
"We lost, so we aren't going to get a fair go. We'll have to take the whacks on the head that we are going to get."
Hugely disappointed with the outcome, he is comfortable with his team's effort.
"I think we had the opportunity to close it out and we didn't.
"I have looked back on that for days," Dalton said of race 15 when errors either side of the bottom mark proved costly.
"That was the opportunity we had to seal the deal. I remember thinking at the time: that might come back to haunt us.
"I think if we'd choked, you would have seen it today [in the final race], we would have laid down. But today we almost sailed our best race.
"That was a blinder start, great first run, but they had too much speed. They just mowed us down.
"But watching the emotion and that with Dean about 10 minutes after the finish today indicated to me about how well he had held himself together and how well he'd done. Other people will answer the choking question, not me."
Dalton also revealed that his absence from the boat for much of the second half of the regatta was due to a pre-planned rotation system with Winston MacFarlane.
The deeper the prolonged final ran, the harder the 56-year-old Dalton found it. He said he lost 6 kilograms through the final where he had a grinder's role on the boat.
"Big Winston was always going to be stronger than me, there's no question of that. I know that ... if you are 25 you are going to hold your weight.
"I struggled with my eating for a while there, although I found that I was fine when I got back on board again. We probably rotated less than I thought."
- © Fairfax NZ News