Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

America's Cup: Expect breakdowns - Dalton warns

Grant Dalton. Photo / Chris Cameron
Grant Dalton. Photo / Chris Cameron

Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton has issued a pre-emptive warning to the public that the team will lose races due to breakages and reliability issues.

The high-powered but highly skittish AC72 catamarans are such incredibly complicated pieces of machinery, that it is almost inevitable Emirates Team New Zealand will suffer a breakdown of some sort during the best-of-17 America's Cup match against Oracle, Dalton said.

The Kiwi team held their final media session in San Francisco yesterday, with the team now in lockdown mode ahead of the opening day of racing on Sunday.

Conscious that after the debacle of their 2003 Cup defence the New Zealand public are sensitive when it comes to boat reliability, Dalton felt the need to prepare fans for the possibility of breakages.

The Team NZ crew were faced with the indignity of having to use buckets to bail out water from their raceboat in the opening race of the Cup match against Alinghi, before their campaign ultimately came to an end when their mast broke in race four.

Dalton said while they have confidence in their boat, the reality of the fast-developing AC72 class is the crew are likely to encounter minor issues, similar to the battery failure which put them out of race two of the Louis Vuitton finals against Luna Rossa, at some point in the Cup match.

"These boats are so complicated and they're developing so fast, I've always felt we will lose races through issues," he said.

"And it if it happens it will be quite hard for the New Zealand public to get their head round, but it's something that so long as our processes are working and we're up as high as we think we can be in terms of reliability, we have to internally accept that we may have a few issues and not get too worried about."

Dalton believes Oracle will be in a similar position having struck a couple of problems with their boat during training last week. But with the finals series having been extended out to 17 races, or the first to nine wins, he said unless one team suffers a catastrophic incident the fastest boat and best team will still win the America's Cup.

Dalton's warnings to the public seem an abrupt turnaround from the message he was delivering heading into the regatta back in July, when he was at pains to emphasise their confidence in the reliability and performance of their boat amid concerns over the safety of the class.

Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker, known for his cool, calm and collected manner at the helm, said his team won't be fazed if the encounter any problems with the boat.
"Inevitably when you go out for race one, everything breaks - I've had that experience before," he said.

"But this team is very well prepared to adapt and to make sure when we go out there for race one whatever is thrown at us everyone will be ready to go racing."

- NZ Herald

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