Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Team NZ: 'They're rewriting history' - Barker

Departing skipper challenges Team NZ’s version of break-up and says he won’t rule out joining a rival team
Dean Barker has a different view to Team NZ. Picture / Sarah Ivey
Dean Barker has a different view to Team NZ. Picture / Sarah Ivey

Dean Barker says Team New Zealand is trying to "rewrite history" with their version of his split from the team.

And the ousted skipper is weighing up a move to another America's Cup syndicate.

The Kiwi team yesterday said Barker had rejected a coaching position offered, ending his 20-year career with Team NZ.

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Accompanying the press release announcing Barker's departure was a series of bullet points aimed at setting "the record straight" on some of the discussion in the media after leaked reports the long-serving skipper was set to be replaced.

Responding to the "rumour and innuendo" that team boss Grant Dalton was the source of the leak, Team NZ said the board had conducted an investigation and was "totally satisfied that Grant Dalton was not involved in any way" and "no member of the board or management leaked any information".

The team also said it was "incorrect that Dean first heard of his possible change of role through social media and the decision via press release".

Barker told the Herald he had a very different view to Team NZ on what happened.

"I'm disappointed with the contents of the statement," he said. "It is nothing less than an attempt to re-write history.

"I stand by what I have said previously."

Asked which points of the statement he was unhappy with, Barker replied: "Put it this way, the only parts I agree with are the first line and the last line."

The statement, given by Emirates Team New Zealand chairman Keith Turner began by confirming that "Dean Barker has decided not to accept the position of Performance Manager/Coach and Executive Team Member offered to him following a four month period of restructure at ETNZ."

The statement concluded with: "Employment issues are notoriously difficult to manage, especially when there is intense public interest. We unreservedly apologise for the impact that any failing on our part has had on Dean, his family, and on the team who are working night and day to bring home to New Zealand the America's Cup".

Dr Turner would not go into any detail on how the investigation into the source of the leak was conducted, but said the board had "established unequivocally" there was no leak from senior management or the board.

"We think it is ... a few pieces of information being put together like a jigsaw puzzle and someone generating a picture that was inaccurate."

Dr Turner expressed disappointment at the way the employment dispute had played out in the public sphere, suggesting the team might have been able to retain Barker had it not been for the intense media interest.

But Barker has maintained from the outset he had no interest in the coaching or analyst role, and believed he still has a lot to offer in an on-board role.

He said he did not know what his future held but is not ruling out a shift to another Cup syndicate.

"I'm a sailor and I want to compete. Unfortunately I can't do that any more with Team New Zealand. If the opportunity to race with another team arose I would ... look at it."

Dr Turner admitted the prospect of Barker taking information gleaned from his 20 years with Team NZ, during the latter part of which he was closely involved with the design and build team, to another syndicate was worrying.

"Dean has some extraordinary experience that we wanted to keep in the team and we do think it's very unfortunate that the media speculation has not helped us to retain him," he said.

"We certainly don't wish him to carry any intellectual property from Team NZ, but ... he wants to stay on the water and obviously taken the steps that he has to do so."


How Barker came to learn he was to be axed as skipper
Barker says: "Unfortunately through a leak to the media last week I found out I had been dumped ... and today through a statement to the media I learnt that was the case."

Team NZ says: "It is incorrect that Dean first heard of his possible change of role through social media and the final decision via press release ... a review of the San Francisco campaign was concluded in May 2014."

The truth: While he had been in talks with Team NZ Barker only learned of definite plans through social media, before the team issued a media statement confirming the outcome of the restructure a week later.

How news Barker was to be replaced as skipper and sailing director was leaked to media
Team NZ says: "The board has conducted an investigation into the cause or source of the 'leak'. We are totally satisfied that Grant Dalton was not involved in any way ... no member of the board or management leaked any information."

Barker says: "I don't see how it could have come from anyone else."

The truth: We will never know.

How the restructure was conducted
Barker says: "A letter has been sent to the board saying that we don't agree with any of their processes being conducted to date."

Team NZ says: "At all times the board and management were acutely conscious of following due process."

The truth: Will never be tested.

- NZ Herald

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