America's Cup: Dalton's rest-day call 'a mistake'

There's a lot of things we would have done differently, says beaten Cup skipper.

Dean Barker (right) has criticised Grant Dalton's decision to agree to a lay-day, when Team NZ was winning the America's Cup. Photo / NZ Herald
Dean Barker (right) has criticised Grant Dalton's decision to agree to a lay-day, when Team NZ was winning the America's Cup. Photo / NZ Herald

Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker last night conceded questions were asked over team boss Grant Dalton's position on the catamaran and that Dalton's decision to agree to a lay day during the America's Cup was "clearly a mistake".

In a candid interview on why Team New Zealand blew an 8-1 lead - and eventually lost the Cup regatta 8-9 to Oracle Team USA - Barker told TV3's Paul Henry: "There's a lot of things we'd do differently".

Read more - Dana Johannsen: What motivated Barker's revelations?

He agreed that grinder Winston Macfarlane - who sailed several races in place of Dalton during the final series - was bigger, stronger and fitter than Dalton, 56.

"Grant was there [on the boat] for reasons other than his physical presence," Barker said. "He was there for leadership and everything else, from him wanting to be in that position."

Asked by Henry whether he had concerns about Dalton's position on the boat, Barker said: "There certainly was questions asked but it was dealt with internally and I was more than happy with the team we put on the boat to go racing.

"We made decisions all the way through the campaign ... maybe yes there were people that weren't happy with Grant being on the boat. In the end I'm skipper ... Grant and I talked a lot and I was accepting of him being on the boat."

But Barker also conceded that Dalton's decision to agree with Oracle that the teams have a rest day on September 16 was an error - and that Dalton made the call without consulting the skipper.

"That was clearly a mistake. It was a decision that was made outside of our knowledge. Grant ultimately made the decision which is his right within the team.

"There was a lot going on at the time. I think it was one of those things that we obviously, on reflection we would had done differently. That's certainly one of them."

The rest day came as Oracle had started making big improvements in its boat speed - and Henry pointed out to Barker that was even more of a reason not to give the American team more time.

Team NZ was leading 7-1 at the time, and won only one more race after the lay day.

The decision surprised many because all the momentum was with Team New Zealand. It gave Oracle an extra day in the shed to make more modifications to their boat.

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

Asked whether the decision to have a rest day would normally have been a joint one, Barker said: "Yes, but there's a lot of other factors ... as a commercial team, a lot of our return is on race days, having our sponsors there with their hospitality, it's important we don't undermine that aspect."

Barker said it was easy to apply hindsight to some decisions.

"There's lots of things we'd do differently ... it wasn't always holding hands and talking kindly ..."

Dalton could not be contacted last night or this morning.

Barker's comments come after the announcement last month that Dalton would take a step back in the day-to-day running of the syndicate, as part of plans to overhaul the management structure after a review into the failed Cup campaign.

Dalton has revealed the changes will not be restricted to the sailing team and that the management of the syndicate will also be modified.

Chief operating officer Kevin Shoebridge is to assume a more hands-on role, and Dalton will take a director-type role. Barker will lead the sailing programme.

Barker said last night: "I never reported directly to the board in the last campaign."

"Right now there is a process in place to look at what the best structure for Team New Zealand is, and that is going to start with the make up of a board, and that's going to be very important in terms of addressing the management structure and the team."

Dalton's decision to put himself in the crew brought derision from his opposite, Oracle Team USA chief executive Russell Coutts.

"There's no one in New Zealand he can find that is better than a [56-year-old]?" Coutts joked at a charity dinner in May last year.

America's Cup commentator Peter Lester believes Grant Dalton will be angry over Barker's comments, and it will lead to "full and fruitful discussion''.

Lester said he was surprised that Dalton acted alone in agreeing to the lay day, brokered by mutual consent by race director Iain Murray.

"I was perplexed at that time. I thought 'wow'. When you're 7-1 up you don't give these guys an even shot.

"From memory, the weather forecast for that day was terrible, and that was when Ian Murray went around both teams and by mutual consent under the America's Cup rules he got agreement,'' he told TV3's Firstline.

''... it sounds like Grant [Dalton] wore that one without talking to his skipper. I'm surprised by that.''

Lester was also surprised that Barker had laid out the issue now.

"Whether it's to force governance change - director change - because he went on and they've both talked about ... the need to put in place a board of directors that actually make the managing director and the sailing team accountable, and that there's reporting right across the board.

"I just wonder if that's where Dean Barker's going in terms of governance.''

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 28 Dec 2014 02:07:30 Processing Time: 80ms