America's Cup: We left nothing out there - Waddell

By Dana Johannsen in San Francisco

Rob Waddell said he was in awe of skipper Dean Barker (centre front) who had kept a clear head through everything.
Rob Waddell said he was in awe of skipper Dean Barker (centre front) who had kept a clear head through everything.

For many of the Team New Zealand crew the "if onlys" will linger heavy in the air above their base in San Francisco as they begin the massive pack-up job today.

But Rob Waddell believes his team couldn't have done anything more to wrest the America's Cup away from Oracle Team USA.

Team NZ came so close to pulling off the ultimate sporting fairytale - the underdogs who relied on good old Kiwi innovation and hard work to triumph over the financial might of Oracle. But instead they succumbed to the ultimate comeback story, as the American team pulled off what is already being referred to as the greatest fightback of all time.

With an 8-1 lead in the series a week ago, Team NZ all but had it in the bag. All but.

They had seven opportunities to close out the match but were, in the end, out-paced by the Oracle team who somehow seemed to find an extra couple of knots boatspeed in the space of a few days.

Having race 13 called off when they were 1.5km ahead and only 400m from Cup glory must be especially galling for the team at this point.

"That one was a strange one, I don't mind speaking honestly about that. The minimum starting limit is five knots, yet it's impossible to finish a race in less than 10 knots. So that in itself is crazy," said Waddell.

"But [Oracle Team USA] really stepped up - the amount of races they put together on the trot was incredible and you really have to take your hat off to them."

The former Olympic rowing champion said in the end they couldn't control the elements or what was going on in the opposition camp. All they could do was control their own response. He believes Team NZ can be satisfied they did their absolute all to bring the Cup back to New Zealand.

"While it's disappointing, I'm immensely proud to have been a part of this and what the guys achieved and I can honestly tell you I don't think we could have done anything more," said Waddell.

"For two and a half years we've left nothing out there.

"When I first came on board and Dean and Jero [Jeremy Lomas] and Daggy [James Dagg] and those guys were out in the Hauraki Gulf every day in the middle of winter in their drysuits just being whipped, absolutely flogged in the weather, while they were developing this foiling system in the SL-33s, I was just in awe of what the team had already got going.

"It's been that intensity all the way."

Waddell, who will return to his job as the New Zealand Olympic Committee's chef de mission when he gets home, said the event had proved a bit of an eye-opener for him to some of the politics and skulduggery that goes on behind the scenes.

The way some of the Oracle crew had conducted themselves after the cheating scandal, including their indignant response to the penalties, had been a study in poor sportsmanship. So too was their pre-race bluster at the dock-out ceremonies.

Waddell said in a sport where the players often resort to mind games and underhanded tactics, Team NZ can be proud of the way they carried themselves throughout.

"I feel we've acted with honesty and integrity throughout the regatta and I hope the country is proud of us. I'm honestly in awe of Dean [Barker] as a sportsman. How he kept a clear head when some of that nonsense was going on I don't know."

- NZ Herald

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