Emirates Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton has pronounced his team's lacklustre performance in San Francisco today as the team's worst result since losing the America's Cup in 2003.
Dean Barker's five-man crew could not lift their game on the final day of the first regatta of the 2012-13 America's Cup World Series, ending the event seventh out of 11 boats in the fleet race championship.
They were hardly buoyed by their performance in the match racing championships either - finishing fourth after losing their semifinal to the stand-out performer of the regatta, Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill.
"We have never been off the podium since the unsuccessful 2003 defence of the America's Cup. San Francisco is the team's worst result since then," Dalton said.
"Throughout this week, I kept expecting it to come right but it never did. It was more than just one of those regattas that didn't go our way. We have only a month before the next regatta to turn it around without losing sight of the AC72 programme."
Both Dalton and Barker have acknowledged that the team has struggled to strike a balance between two cat - testing their new monster 72ft multihull back in Auckland and racing a nippy 45ft version in the ACWS. No other America's Cup team has an AC72 in the water yet.
"We didn't spark - we let ourselves down," Barker said between coming off the water and catching a plane home to Auckland. "We have a long way to go to get back to our best. We have got to find the balance between working the 72 and racing the 45."
Team NZ's flatness was obvious in the final fleet race, which carried big points for the winner. Barker started well, but was luffed at the first mark and slipped back through the fleet to finish ninth. It was the story of their regatta.
Cup defenders Oracle certainly staked their claim on the bay - cleaning up both the match race and fleet race championships. Spithill sneaked a one-point victory over Luna Rossa's Piranha team after Chris Draper steered the Italia crew to a three second victory over Spithill in the Super Sunday big points race.
Earlier in the day, Sir Russell Coutts proved he still has the skills to outclass the world's best, edging out Spithill in the match race final - albeit by just one second as the two AC45s screamed to the finish line in over 20 knots of breeze.
Barker said the one positive taken from the regatta was that "a week ago we had never sailed a catamaran on the Bay. Now we have some knowledge of local conditions even though our understanding is far from complete."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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