America's Cup: Team NZ boss Grant Dalton on 'brutal' recovery mission of 2013
Team New Zealand chief executive Grant Dalton has opened up about the "brutal" recovery process from the disaster of San Francisco that culminated in him finally getting his hands on the America's Cup.
Four years after being on the receiving end of one of the most spectacular meltdowns in sporting history, Team NZ secured an emphatic 7-1 series victory over Oracle on Bermuda's Great Sound to deliver the ultimate redemption story.
During the often bitter wash-up to the collapse of 2013, Dalton bore the brunt of the public criticism, which ramped up two years later following the ugly breakup with former skipper Dean Barker.
While Dalton purposefully kept a low profile since that campaign, without him working away in the background the reality is the Auld Mug would not be winging its way back to Auckland.
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Looking back on the demoralising result that ultimately laid the foundation for Team NZ's victory, Dalton said they identified 20 points where it all went wrong.
And right at the top of the list was design.
"We've battled some serious adversity," Dalton said.
"Out of San Francisco we came up with 20 points... and they were pretty brutal.
"We knew we couldn't outspend them (Oracle), if they needed to outspend us 7-1 they would. So we had to out-think them really."
With their pedal-powered hydraulic system and high-tech wingsail control, among other things, the Kiwis produced elements that have revolutionised the sport.
It all began with the talent and Dalton credited skipper Glenn Ashby, technical director Dan Bernasconi and coach Ray Davies for pushing the boundaries around innovation and design.
"We had to invest in technology on a pretty limited budget and we had to invest in the people who could handle that technology."
With all but one of their sailing crew aged 30 or under, another key factor was the decision to invest in the new generation yachtsmen.
Helmsman Peter Burling was, of course, at the forefront of that with Dalton revealing he first approached the Olympic gold medallist about the prospect of coming on board not long after the 2013 campaign.
Even at stage, Burling made it clear he wanted to play a prominent role.
"I'd been talking to Pete pretty early on. The first meeting we had at my house we kept it away from the base, we met at my house quietly and Pete said he wanted helmsman," Dalton recalled.
"I said we've got a bit to go under the bridge yet, mate, but we'll see where we get to. So it was just investing in the right people, giving them the responsibility and not shackling them to constraint."
While Team NZ had to wait four years to erase the heartache of San Francisco, Dalton's America's Cup dream was 14 years in the making.
Called in to the restructure the syndicate after Team NZ lost the Auld Mug to Alinghi in 2003, he fell at the final hurdle in Valencia in 2007 before working tirelessly to keep them afloat during the protracted legal battle between the Swiss outfit and Oracle.
A master fundraiser, he pulled off another rescue mission following 2013 when a lack of government funding and constant changes to the Cup structure left them on the brink of going under.
He wasn't alone. Team principal Matteo De Nora was a pillar of strength for the 59-year-old and he praised the board of directors, some of whom were forced quickly discover just how ruthless life in the America's Cup can be.
"They saw the wild west a couple of times that they didn't even know existed," Dalton said.
"They had to learn the ways of the America's Cup and learn how incredibly difficult it is to stay going. You've really got to put it out there, particularly financially, when you can't actually pay the salaries but you still don't shut the door.
"I'm just so pleased at the support they given me and Matteo as well."