Grant Dalton blasts Camper chief boat designer

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 18/03/2012
Camper
PHIL DOYLE/Fairfax NZ
IMPROVED SHOWING: Team NZ's Camper leads into the first mark yesterday.

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The patchy performance by Camper in the round the world race looks to have fractured the relationship between Team New Zealand and one of their chief boat designers.

Camper has struggled in reaching (cross-wind) conditions during the Volvo Ocean Race to slip to third overall. It will be hoping a change to downwind racing for the next leg through the Southern Ocean starting from Auckland today will play to its strength.

Camper showed that promise yesterday when it completely dominated the in-port race in Auckland on a windward-leeward course, making the most of a good start and slick crew work to win the one-hour tussle by 54 seconds.

But the inability of noted principal designer Marcelino Botin (Spain) to produce an all-round boat has clearly left TNZ boss Grant Dalton, a former winner of this race, unimpressed.

"Yeah, I lay that performance deficit in certain angles 100% at the feet of the designer. No doubt of that," Dalton told the Sunday Star-Times when asked if there was disappointment in Camper's design performance.

Asked if he had confronted the designer yet, Dalton said: "No, well I haven't actually. It's there for him to see and me to see. I just guess we aren't going to be building any boats together again."

Asked if he was serious about that, he replied: "Yeah, absolutely."

The boats setting the current pace - Telefonica, Groupama and to a lesser extent Puma - are all designed by Argentina's Juan Kouyoumadjian.

"I take it pretty personally if we are not winning. I can only put my faith in the fact that we are four out of nine legs and things could change. But there is absolutely no doubt that at certain angles we are slow relatively to these other three 'Juan K' boats," said the perfectionist Kiwi.

Botin has worked with TNZ for six years designing their Louis Vuitton-winning boat in 2007 and their successful TP52s which dominated the 2010 Med Cup. He has previously described Camper as "radically different".

He won't be involved in TNZ's next America's Cup campaign with multi-hull specialists designing the massive catamaran for next year's racing in San Francisco.

This is TNZ's first venture into the Volvo and from Dalton's tone, Botin won't be in the mix if they venture into it again.

Asked if TNZ's long-term future in the Volvo was reliant on this result overall, a frustrated Dalton said: "No, I don't think so. I mean I could probably say right now we will probably end up doing the round the world race again because win, lose or draw I'm not that happy that it's exactly the way I want things. It's not perfect...obviously not perfect. In terms of is the boat quite right? No it's not (so) I have to do it again."

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