Dana Johannsen: What motivated Barker's revelations?

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Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker. Photo / NZ Herald
Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker. Photo / NZ Herald

Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker's belated revelations last night about what went wrong in San Francisco seem to be motivated more by self-defence rather than to discredit team boss Grant Dalton.

Barker's record in the America's Cup came under question when Team NZ announced last month they signed young guns Peter Burling and Blair Tuke for the next Cup. Some wondered aloud if it was time for Barker, who has skippered Team NZ to three America's Cup defeats, to step aside and hand Burling the helm.

Away on holiday at the time, Barker was not around to defend himself and push his case for staying on as skipper. His comments last night on TV3's Paul Henry show, which reiterated statements made by other members of the team including sailing coach Rod Davis, served as a reminder that decisions were made off the boat that had an ultimately fatal impact on their campaign. With his position on the boat in question, Barker felt the need to point out that a lot of the decision-making was taken out of his hands.

The call to agree to switch a reserve day to a lay day was a bad mistake and confounded many sailing scribes at the time. For one, to make a change to the schedule regatta director Iain Murray needed the mutual consent of both teams - something that he had not been able to achieve at any other time. But more confusingly, at that point Team New Zealand had a 7-1 lead in the regatta and all the momentum was with them.

By agreeing to the rest, they handed Oracle Team USA more time to get their act together.

There has been suggestion this have been done for the benefit of the sponsors and their corporate guests, as there would have just been one race scheduled on the reserve day, making it a short day on the water.

That demonstrates the tricky position Dalton was in, trying to balance the demands of his multiple sponsors and stake-holders with that of the team - something Oracle, funded by billionaire Larry Ellison did not have to worry about.

Barker's comments have raised questions over the relationship between the skipper and Dalton, with suggestions not all is well in the Team NZ camp. But the reality is what was said last night was nothing that wouldn't have already been discussed openly and frankly behind closed doors.

The team have already made moves to overhaul their governance structure on the back of a review into their failed campaign, with Dalton admitting to 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

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