Team New Zealand's billionaire backer has come out swinging in defence of syndicate boss Grant Dalton.
Matteo de Nora, the Swiss-Italian who has poured millions into Team NZ, has given his full backing to Dalton and the troubled America's Cup syndicate's board.
When asked if he was concerned at the fallout following Dean Barker's dumping as skipper, he said: "I do not see it that way. On the contrary, I feel the board and top management are making the necessary decisions with clarity and courage."
And Monaco-based de Nora said he would again be on board Team New Zealand when it challenges for the America's Cup in 2017.
"Teammates and I will be backing the team and Mr Dalton for the next AC," he said.
"My confidence in Grant Dalton as the right individual to run the campaign for TNZ is total," de Nora added.
Hear the interview with Dean Barker here:
He had no plans to talk to the syndicate's bosses about the make-up of its sailing personnel as he believed that was a matter for its board and management.
De Nora has ploughed millions of dollars into Team New Zealand since at least the early 2000s.
During the team's lowest ebb, after their loss of the America's Cup to Alinghi in 2003, he wrote cheques of up to $500,000 to cover bills.
Hear the interview with Dalton here:
In 2011 his contribution to yachting and funding private neurological medical research was honoured when he was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
He said at the time: "This just deepens the fact that New Zealand is my second country, next to Monaco."
Despite his long-time and prolific support of Team New Zealand, the billionaire rarely gives interviews.
But he was the only high-profile person aligned to the syndicate willing to talk to the Herald on Sunday yesterday as controversy continues to rage about Barker's dumping.
After a week of innuendo and blood-letting, Team New Zealand bosses confirmed on Thursday that 42-year-old Barker would not be at the helm of the team's next challenge.
Barker, board member Sir Stephen Tindall and the team's head of communications Warren Douglas declined to comment yesterday.
Dalton did not respond to approaches from this newspaper and board chairman Dr Keith Turner had his phone switched off.
Douglas said he had "no idea" why Tindall or board members were unable to talk, before hanging up the phone.
The Herald on Sunday understands Team NZ are scheduled to meet members of Toyota tomorrow while fellow key sponsor, Nespresso, was coy on whether they would back another bid.
"Nespresso has no comment on the operations of Team New Zealand," a spokeswoman said.
"Nespresso is currently reviewing opportunities associated with the 35th America's Cup and has not made any decisions to date."
Naming-rights sponsor Emirates was unable to comment at press time.
Dalton came under further fire yesterday when veteran broadcaster Murray Deaker wrote a scathing column in the Weekend Herald calling on the sailing team boss to move on.
"Dalton must realise that his use-by date has been and gone," he wrote.