Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Dana Johannsen: Dalton's failure to consult Barker on lay-day decision inexcusable

2013 Team New Zealand crew member Grant Dalton. Photo / Greg Bowker
2013 Team New Zealand crew member Grant Dalton. Photo / Greg Bowker

Sir Michael Fay, the man behind New Zealand's first America's Cup challenge, once described the Auld Mug as the hardest prize to win in world sport.

The reason it is so tough? "You have to get through two years without making a mistake."

Team New Zealand's mistakes in last year's loss to defenders Oracle Team USA have emerged piece by piece since the gun sounded in that heartbreaking final race on San Francisco Bay last September.

This week, skipper Dean Barker shed further light on the team's missteps in San Francisco, pointing to a decision made by syndicate head Grant Dalton to agree to a lay-day when they had the option of racing as a key error. He also admitted there was tension among the crew over Dalton's inclusion in the sailing team.

In an earlier column it was suggested Barker's comments appeared defensive and were possibly a response to the pressure he is under to retain his position at the helm following the addition of the talented Peter Burling to the team. Barker, however, denies this and says he was at the forefront of the decision to sign the 49er world champion pair of Burling and Blair Tuke.

In any case his revelations should serve as a reminder to his critics that America's Cup campaigns are complex beasts - decisions were made both on and off the boat that ultimately negatively affected their campaign.

The call to agree to switch a reserve day to a lay-day was a mistake and confounded many observers. To change the schedule, regatta director Iain Murray needed the consent of both teams - something that he had not been able to get at any other time. Even more confusing is that Team NZ had a 7-1 lead and all the momentum.

The revelation Dalton made the decision without consulting Barker and the team, apparently to accommodate sponsors and their corporate guests, is inexcusable. But it does demonstrate the tricky position Dalton was in, trying to balance the demands of sponsors and stakeholders with those of the team - something Oracle did not have to worry about.

The skipper's comments have raised questions over the relationship between himself and Dalton, but Barker has already admitted to open and frank discussions during the regatta and Dalton told the Herald last month the team's decision-making processes let them down in San Francisco, and for that he needed to "take a look at himself".

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Dana has more than a decade's experience in sports journalism, joining the Herald in 2007 following stints with TVNZ and RadioSport. Over that time Dana has covered several major events including the 2011 Netball World Cup in Singapore, 2011 Rugby World Cup, 2012-13 Volvo Ocean Race, and the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco. A multi-award winning journalist, Dana was named New Zealand Sports Journalist of the Year in 2012 after scooping both the news and feature categories at the TP McLean Awards. The previous year she picked up the prize for best news break. She was also an inaugural recipient of the Sir John Wells scholarship at the 2009 NZSJA awards. Dana also writes a weekly sports column for the NZ Herald.

Read more by Dana Johannsen

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 28 May 2017 04:53:27 Processing Time: 610ms