Grant Dalton could only shake his head.

As the Team New Zealand crew returned to their base still on a high from the adrenalin of pulling off a heart-stopping one-second victory over Artemis to move to match point in the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series, a grim-faced Dalton was still recovering from the stress of the day.

"How was that?" laughed Richard Burling, father of helmsman Peter, as he stood at the perimeter fence of the Kiwi base waving his over-sized New Zealand flag.

Dalton, wrung out on daggerboard anxiety, exchanged a knowing look with Burling senior, who has ridden virtually every shift change of his son's career, and shook his head. With one final grimace, the knotty Team NZ boss, who has kept a low profile in Bermuda, stalked back into the team's maze of portacoms that form the base at the America's Cup village.


The joke in the Team NZ camp is no one has to worry, because Dalton does all the worrying for everyone.

Yesterday's second day of racing in the quick-fire Louis Vuitton challenger final delivered plenty of new worry lines for the hyper-vigilant Dalton.

The predicted light air, for which Team NZ have pitched their race boat, did not arrive. Depending on which models you believed, the wind could have been anywhere from 5 to 20 knots, swinging from the north-east to the south-west.

"When the team forecasters are calling us and saying 'What do you know?' I think it's indicative of the situation out there," regatta director Iain Murray wryly observed at the morning media briefing.

It made selecting the configuration of the boat, which relies heavily on the information provided by the weather team, fraught with difficulty. Adding to the strain, the decision had to be locked in by 9am local time - five hours ahead of the opening race - so the team's measurement certificate could be issued.

Team NZ plumped for their light air package, while Artemis opted for their high speed foils, believing the conditions would be more moderate.

As he watched the Kiwi team head out on to the race course in 16 knots of wind, Roger "Clouds" Badham, the team's meteorologist, must have feared for his job security.

In the heavier air, Artemis, hurtling around the course on their high speed foils, were untouchable and Team NZ's hopes of wrapping up the first-to-five series on day two were dead in the water as Nathan Outteridge and co rolled New Zealand on the first reach.


The anemometer they had been cursing only 20 minutes earlier suddenly became Team NZ's friend in the build-up to the second race, as the wind dropped to around 10 knots - more in line with conditions their boat had been set up for.

Aotearoa found her groove, and everyone back in Aotearoa found their composure again as Team NZ did what they have to so many other teams in this regatta - used their superior boat speed and course management to mow down the leading boat.

They went 3-2 up, and were on track to comfortably secure a 4-2 lead before that inexplicable slip-up at the final mark rounding.

Peter Burling later put his hand up for the error and ambitiously promised all their supporters were owed a beer for causing them unnecessary grief. He had misjudged the layline, he explained, forcing the team to gybe at the last second to ensure they just snuck inside the gate. That unexpected manoeuvre saw the Kiwi boat run out of "hydro" - a precious commodity on these power-hungry race boats - and Team NZ came to a virtual standstill.

It was only the efforts of the team's cyclors, who put in an explosive burst of power to get the boat moving again, that saved the New Zealand team's blushes and match point. The Kiwi team don't tend to celebrate their victories on board - they prefer to stay on an even keel, or a stable foil. But as soon as they crossed the line, foil trimmer Blair Tuke leapt from his bike seat and enthusiastically patted his cyclors on the back.

The dogged Artemis team have been the comeback kings in this regatta, overcoming a 3-1 deficit to Team Japan in the semifinal to claim their place in the final. They've pulled off the hat-trick of wins in a single day before.

Whatever happens today, Dalton will be grimacing for every second.