Dana Johannsen on sport

Dana Johannsen is a Herald sport writer

The America's Cup blame game

By Dana Johannsen

Dean Barker admits his comments are not the sort of thing Grant Dalton would have wanted dredged up again

Grant Dalton (left) and Dean Barker admit there were tense discussions during the 2013 regatta. Photo / Greg Bowker
Grant Dalton (left) and Dean Barker admit there were tense discussions during the 2013 regatta. Photo / Greg Bowker

Grant Dalton has told Dean Barker he would have preferred some of the fallout from the America's Cup had not been dredged up again.

The Team New Zealand skipper called Dalton yesterday after the relationship between the pair was put under the spotlight.

On Tuesday night, Barker revealed he hadn't been consulted over a decision to agree to a lay-day when Team NZ held a 7-1 lead over Oracle in last year's America's Cup.

He also confirmed there was a faction on the boat that did not want Dalton as part of the sailing team, but there was no way to raise these concerns with the team's directors.

Barker denied there was any rift between the pair. He said issues had since been addressed as part of the team's "open and frank" review into their devastating 8-9 loss to the American defenders in San Francisco, and there was no lingering tension in the camp.

"There is definitely no ill-feeling between Grant and myself. There's no personality issues there or ongoing issues relating to the leadership of the team. We have always had a strong working relationship and that hasn't changed," said Barker.

He made his earlier comments on TV3's Paul Henry Show, in which the team's key failings in San Francisco were laid bare, with Dalton copping much of the blame.

The Team NZ skipper said he had had some tense discussions with Dalton during the regatta, but said such debates were just part of the dynamics of a highly charged team on a mission to win one of the toughest prizes in world sport.

"A lot of difficult things were said but it needs to be taken in the context of what was happening at the time," he said. "Every day we had a lot of tough decisions to make and we're not going to agree all of the time. Tension is normal."

Barker said he had spoken to Dalton since the TV3 interview aired and there were no hard feelings between the pair, although "obviously it is not the sort of thing he would have liked to have dredged up again".

Dalton, who is in Europe meeting sponsors, was unavailable for comment yesterday as he travelled to Frankfurt. He told the Herald last month the team's review highlighted that their decision-making processes let them down in San Francisco, for which he took responsibility.

"We have to expand the way we make decisions, because that was where we made a mistake in San Francisco," said Dalton.

"There's so much experience within the organisation that the way we make decisions needs to be a bit smarter. I need to take a good look at myself there."

Dalton has taken a step back from the day-to-day running of the organisation, with chief operating officer Kevin Shoebridge to take on more leadership. The management structure has been flattened, with key decisions to be made by an executive group that includes Barker, Dalton, Shoebridge, wing trimmer and multihull specialist Glenn Ashby and key designers Nick Holroyd and Daniel Bernasconi.

Barker said governance remained a key issue for Team NZ, which received $36 million of government funding for their 2013 campaign, with director Gary Paykel looking at board structure and how to ensure accountability across all levels.

Despite promises from Oracle that the costs of competing will be significantly less than the 2013 regatta - $120 million - Dalton is expecting the expenses to be much the same for the 35th America's Cup.

- NZ Herald

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