Team NZ boss Grant Dalton has defended America's Cup race director Iain Murray against criticism, but pointed the finger at defenders Oracle for imposing wind limits that are too high for conditions on Bermuda's Great Sound.
Emirates Team New Zealand's ACC boat capsized at the start of their second race against Ben Ainslie Racing yesterday, sending crew members hurling into the sea, causing extensive damage and gifting Ben Ainslie Racing a victory in their first-to-five challenger semifinal.
With racing called off today due to high winds, the Kiwis have another 24 hours to repair the damage, although Dalton told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking that shore crew had worked feverishly overnight and the boat could have taken the water today at a pinch.
Asked to rate the boat's readiness out of 10, Dalton responded: "We were ready to race today at 7.5, tomorrow we'll be a 9.8 and the only thing missing will be a bit of faring around the daggerboards."
Murray came under fire yesterday for allowing racing in conditions that inflicted damage on all four remaining challengers, but Dalton directed his anger at Oracle Team USA, who controls the America's Cup Event Authority and had been instrumental in establishing the wind limits.
Racing cannot take place if winds exceed an average of 24 knots - they were at 21 knots yesterday, when Team NZ overturned.
"I've read and heard quite a bit of criticism of Iain Murray, the race director," said Dalton. "He was playing it by the book.
"I think there's a much bigger or deeper issue in play here that's gone on for a number of years, as a lot of things do with the America's Cup, The event authority would not allow the wind speed to be dropped from what was 25 knots.
"Iain Murray, on behalf of the teams, negotiated it down to 24 ... that's about as much as he thought he could get away with. I've had the view for a number of years that these boats would be unsailable in those conditions and that someone would crash, it just happened to be us.
"I think criticism of Iain Murray is unfounded and unfair - the bigger issue is the pressure ... the veto right that Oracle has of a rule change and the event authority that wouldn't budge."
Dalton has been outspoken in his attacks on Team USA and chief executive Russell Coutts in the past, but has consciously taken a lower profile during this campaign, compared to four years ago in San Francisco.
The sailing world has held its breath, wondering how long that approach will last and yesterday's events may be that spark that lights the slow-burning fuse.
Dalton told Hosking that the carnage inflicted on the challenger fleet plays right into Oracle's hands.
"Absolutely and that's the game," he said. "That's why they didn't want the wind limit dropped.
"Later in June, there will be less wind and off to the races go Oracle. This is exactly the game that they want to play.
"If the opposition was basically destroyed and a weaker team could get through to challenge, cobbled back together, that's exactly what they want."
Dalton described most of the damage to the Team NZ boat as "superficial", but admitted they were vulnerable to any wing damage over the next couple of days, after damaging both in yesterday's gusts.
"In San Francisco, we only ever had one wing and we've only ever used one in New Zealand - the second one came on stream when we got here.
"So it's not unusual for us to have one wing, but you certainly feel a bit safer if you've got two operational."
But Dalton was more concerned at the psychological impact of the accident on crew.
"I think it's a fair point and it's certainly something we're concerned about. I think that, as Kiwis, you sometimes don't think that's a big deal, when it is.
"With the calibre of these guys, they crash and burn in their dinghies quite a bit, but I think it's real and we've got to be conscious of that.
"We need a good day tomorrow, get out and try to put the semifinal away and regroup on Friday [local time], before we go to the final.
"The forecast tomorrow is not fresh to frightening, but it's still pretty well up there. One clean day and this will be nothing more than a memory."
Dalton also defended his team against critism from legendary British boat designer Hugh Welbourn, who described Team NZ and helmsman Peter Burling as "careless", and accused them of shooting themselves in the foot by crossing BAR's wake.
"I don't know Hugh Welbourn personally," said Dalton. "But I have seen a few designs he did in the '80s, which were basically pigs."