James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Team NZ say crew were consulted over lay-day

Dalton says skipper knew about decision but was ambushed in TV3 interview.

Dean Barker
Dean Barker

Team New Zealand say crew members were consulted about the decision to take a lay-day at a crucial time during last year's failed America's Cup campaign.

The comments follow skipper Dean Barker telling TV3's Paul Henry Show on Tuesday that he was not consulted over agreeing to a lay-day when Team NZ held a 7-1 lead.

The Kiwis won only one more race after the lay-day and blew an 8-1 lead, Oracle Team USA winning 9-8.

Barker also said a faction on the boat did not want Dalton as part of the sailing team, but there was no way to raise these concerns with the team's directors.

A Team NZ representative said there was consultation with the team about the lay day.

"It wasn't sitting around the boardroom table or anything, but [Dalton] had conversations with the sailors and shore team. Grant assembled the facts and made a decision and nobody dissented."

Dalton, who is in Russia to secure European sponsors for the next America's Cup, yesterday told Newstalk ZB that he thought Barker had been ambushed by the interview.

"He wasn't expecting it. I mean, to the question, 'Did he know about the lay-day?' If you asked him that question again, I think he'd say absolutely he did, because one of the things I did is I checked through the guys because I couldn't remember the process."

Dalton told Newstalk ZB they went through the normal process and "nobody objected to it, as opposed to 25 guys made a decision ... So with no objections, you make a decision. Or even if there was an objection, you might, but you'd discuss.

"So it appears to me anyway that there's way more being made of this than Dean had any intention of doing. I feel sorry for him a bit in this."

In Tuesday's interview, Barker agreed Winston Macfarlane - who sailed several races in place of Dalton during the final series - was bigger, stronger and fitter than Dalton, 56.

Asked whether he should have been on the boat, Dalton said Macfarlane would beat him in a full strength test.

"But ... that isn't exactly how it works ... Yes, it's a grind-off, but it's a yachting regatta."

- APNZ

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