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America's Cup- Dean Barker on unsuccessful Cup bid

by Richard Gladwell on 12 Feb 2014
ETNZ’s Dean Barker checks out the action from the team’s Protector at the A-class catamaran World Championships, Day 1, Takapuna February 11, 2014 Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz

Emirates Team New Zealand's Dean Barker was interviewed on Tuesday evening in the top rating Paul Henry Show, broadcast on TV3, on the subject of his team's performance in the 2013 America's Cup.

Particular focus was put on the granting of a lay day on September 16, 2013, when Emirates Team NZ was leading by 7-1, and the option of a layday was taken by senior management in the team. The issue is front page news on Wednesday morning's newspapers.

Barker's response comments confirms comments made by ETNZ coach, Rod Davis, to Sail-World in early January, that the decision not to race was made by senior management and not by the sailing team who were ready to race. Click here to see the story.

The full TV3 interview can be viewed by clicking here

The second part was be broadcast on the Paul Henry Show the following night on TV3, but instead of more 'revelations' the second part featured an interview with Government Minister, Steven Joyce. Backed up with a third very soft interview with Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill on Friday evening.

Later research by Sail-World, assisted by local (SFO) commentator, John Navas, showed that the wind at a shore station at the time of racing on September 16, was gusting 20kts - and likely to have been more on San Francisco Bay, which with the tide adjusted wind limit prevailin at that time would have probably triggered a wind alarm, precuding racing.

Sail-World's America's Cup Editor, was on the water that day, crossing the Bay, around the time of Race 2 for the day, and was under no illusions that racing would not have been possible that day with the adjusted wind limit.

The weather data research refutes the foundation of the Henry interview, in respect of whether the teams should have sailed. It would seem that sailing would have been most unlikely to have started, and even less likely to have been allowed to continue on September 16, 2013.

While the non-sailing media will be quick to put their fingers on various touch points surrounding the America's Cup and ETNZ decisions, a long running research exercise conducted by Sail-World points to the root cause of the NZ defeat as being the variation of wind limit by the addition and subtraction of the computer modeled tidal flow.

This daily alteration of the wind limit is, in Sail-World's experience, completely unique in sailing - has never been done in another other serious sailing event, and probably never will again. The Regatta Director of the America's Cup commented before the event had finished that in hindsight the shifting wind limit was not a good idea.

Wind limits in the regatta varied from 20kts to 24.9kts, with the lower level applying in the second week, and was lowered for the second race of each day, even though the wind strength profile was for the breeze to increase during the afternoon. This meant that racing was held in a lowered wind limit when the breeze was expected to increase. In effect the wind limit was a measure of apparent wind speed rather than true wind speed which is standard in sailing , when wind limits are used.

Additionally the standard wind limit for sailing events is about 25kts, with some discretion on behalf of the Race Committee the standard limit used in the 2013 America's Cup was 23kts. Oracle Team USA had wanted 20kts, Emirates Team NZ wanted 25kts. The original Protocol set by Oracle and the then Challenger of Record specified a wind limit of 33kts with no adjustment for tidal flow.

The shifting of the wind limit gave Oracle Team USA the time and opportunity to effect changes in the second week of the regatta to both conduct analysis and effect changes to their boat which were hit home in the third week, with devastating effect against a backdrop of increasing wind limits.

Emirates Team NZ did make at least four key mistakes that we have been able to identify. Some were in the on the water part of the campaign, others were more deep seated and went back to the team's reformation after 2003, and earlier, after Sir Peter Blake's departure.

We expect to publish the research in a couple of weeks.
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