Barker was 'ambushed' - Dalton

Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton and skipper Dean Barker. Photo / Greg Bowker
Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton and skipper Dean Barker. Photo / Greg Bowker

Team NZ boss Grant Dalton says skipper Dean Barker was "ambushed'' when he made critical comments about his role in last year's America's Cup campaign.

On Tuesday night, Barker revealed on TV3's Paul Henry show that he hadn't been consulted over a decision to agree to a lay-day when Team NZ held a 7-1 lead over Oracle.

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.

Dalton, who is in Russia as part of a trip to secure European sponsors for the next America's Cup, spoke to Barker yesterday.

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Speaking for the first time since the interview, Dalton told Newstalk ZB he was not completely across what had happened.

"But from what I can gather ... I think he just got ambushed by Paul Henry, frankly,'' he said.

"He wasn't expecting it. I mean, to the question, 'Did he know about the lay-day?' If you asked him that question again, I think he'd say absolutely he did, because one of the things I did is I just checked through the guys because I couldn't remember the process.''

Dalton said they went through the normal process.

"Basically what happened was nobody objected to it, as opposed to 25 guys made a decision. So with no objections, you make a decision. Or even if there was an objection, you might, but you'd discuss.

"So it appears to me anyway that there's way more being made of this than Dean had any intention of doing. You know, I feel sorry for him a bit in this actually.''

In Tuesday's interview, Barker admitted Winston Macfarlane - who sailed several races in place of Dalton during the final series - was bigger, stronger and fitter than Dalton, 56.

Asked whether he should have been on the boat, Dalton said Macfarlane - a "good bloke'' who had been re-signed to the team - would beat him in a full strength test.

"But then if that was the case, then you'd just put your strongest All Blacks on the paddock as well, wouldn't you. And of course we know that isn't exactly how it works, and it's a yachting race, it's a yachting regatta.

"Yes, it's a grind-off, but it's a yachting regatta.''

Dalton said the way the boat was developed - including the innovation of foiling - was "a process of decision-making in groups''.

"When you're on the boat, you can allocate resource because you know where it should go, and I'm not going to defend it either way. But I don't think I missed a day sailing since we launched our very first boat, pretty much, other than normal rotation.

"So, stronger guy? Yep. Better sailor? Debatable. Is it a sailing race? Yep, it's a sailing race.''

Dalton admitted he was a "control freak'' to a point.

"I like things to get done right and get done properly, and to be correct. And we have sponsors - the New Zealand Government being one of them - that we owe our entire existence to.

"I've raised huge sums of money over the years to do this. You don't do that if you're not prepared to give pay-back, it's kind of how it works.''

Dalton said he had "amazing guys'' around him and Barker was just one of them.

He accepted the lay-day was a mistake, which he admitted straight after the last race.

"Actually, we don't know in the end whether it was a mistake because what we didn't realise - and I think this is the key point - is that they suddenly got a huge amount faster, like about a minute and a half, and it was at about that time [of the lay-day].

"If we'd raced, would we have beaten them and then finished it off? Maybe, but I don't think we know that.''

Dalton said there were endless debriefs during the America's Cup.

"That's not uncommon, but it's never in a nasty way.''

The decisions tended to be in the first year or two of a campaign.

"We've always said that you get your boat right and a few things right at the start, and the rest falls into place. It's a bit like that _ you can't fix it at the very end.''

Dalton accused Henry of trying to push up ratings on his new show.

"[In] the discussions beforehand ... it was a general catch-up on the campaign, and then it appears that Paul Henry tried to want to be a hero to get his ratings in a late-night show on TV3.''

But he and Barker still got along.

"Dean and me get on like a house on fire, in a business or a sporting environment, we do. We've got a great respect for each other.''

- APNZ

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