Dean Barker questions Dalton over rest day

Last updated 09:11 12/02/2014
Grant Dalton
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SO CLOSE, SO FAR: Dean Barker is consoled by Team NZ boss Grant Dalton after losing the final America's Cup race to Oracle.

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The coals keep getting raked over Team New Zealand's agonising America's Cup loss with skipper Dean Barker admitting boss Grant Dalton's decision to opt for a rest day when they had Oracle on the ropes was wrong.

Speaking to TV3's Paul Henry, Barker said there had also been a lot of debate over veteran Dalton's place on the boat during the white-hot racing in San Francisco.

In the review to how the Kiwis blew an 8-1 lead to eventually lose 9-8, Barker admitted: "There's lots of things we'd do differently ... it wasn't always holding hands and talking kindly ..."

Barker conceded that Dalton's decision to agree with Oracle that the teams have a rest day on September 16 when New Zealand were leading 7-1 was wrong and said that Dalton made the call without consulting him.

That breathing space allowed Oracle more time to eek out improvements on their struggling AC72 which kept them in the match and eventually helped them overhaul the Kiwis.

"That was clearly a mistake. It was a decision that was made outside of our knowledge. Grant ultimately made the decision which is his right within the team," Barker told Henry.

"There was a lot going on at the time. I think it was one of those things that we obviously, on reflection we would had done differently. That's certainly one of them."

Dalton, 56, was also in a sharing role with grinder Winston Macfarlane on the boat and for the early races appeared to be New Zealand's "lucky charm". When the boss wasn't on the boat, Oracle won races.

Yet as the match dragged on, Macfarlane became increasingly present though had the disappointment of never gaining a race win.

Barker said he was comfortable with Dalton on the boat though admitted there had been debate over the crew makeup.

"There certainly was questions asked but it was dealt with internally and I was more than happy with the team we put on the boat to go racing," Barker said.

"We made decisions all the way through the campaign ... maybe yes there were people that weren't happy with Grant being on the boat. In the end I'm skipper ... Grant and I talked a lot and I was accepting of him being on the boat.

"Grant was there [on the boat] for reasons other than his physical presence," Barker said. "He was there for leadership and everything else, from him wanting to be in that position."

Dalton is currently in Europe on a fundraising campaign to keep Team New Zealand afloat and get the syndicate in a position to challenge for the next America's Cup in 2017.

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Barker is currently preparing to lead the team into the Extreme 40 catamaran series which is seen as the launching pad for the next campaign.

The first leg of that series starts in Singapore next week.

Barker himself is under pressure with Team New Zealand having signed outstanding young skipper Peter Burling and his Olympics team mate Blair Tuke.

Team New Zealand plan to overhaul their management structure moving forward with chief operating office Kevin manager Kevin Shoebridge taking a more hands-on role, allowing Dalton to concentrate more on finding the crucial funds.

The team also need to relocate their Auckland base because of property development at their current location in the Viaduct Basin.

- Fairfax Media

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