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America's Cup- Dean Barker reflects on the 34th America's Cup

by Richard Gladwell on 16 Dec 2013
Dean Barker on Day 8 of the 34th America’s cup © Richard Gladwell

In the first of two interviews, Radio New Zealand National spoke with the two opposing skippers in the 2013 America's Cup, Dean Barker and Jimmy Spithill.

Below are some of the key points from Dean Barker, including the link to the full 30minute interview. There is a lot, lot more in the full interview than is reproduced below:

On what has it been like since not winning the America's Cup

'We had poured everything into it over the past three years – never thinking past the last race – and there is a big void. The support at home has been very humbling.

'Now is still a time to re-gather, and look forward to the next event. We are not certain for the next event. We still have to wait for the next rule, or Protocol, which should be March or April next year. We need a lot of aspects of that to be favourable for our sponsors to be able to make a strong case for them to be back and involved in the team.

On the injection of Government backing

'We have been very fortunate as to the way the Government has got behind the team and enabled us to retain key people. It would have been very easy for the Government to step away from it all.

'The way that NZ was accepted into San Francisco has opened a lot of doors and avenues for New Zealand business. The Government funding is very necessary for us. We don’t have a billionaire backer who can roll us over and go straight into the next campaign, and a lot of the guys were under fire and very quickly.

'We have been allowed to buy some time. I was up in Europe with Grant Dalton recently, meeting with a number of different sponsors. They love the team and the values that go with it. They would very much like to be involved again, but they cannot commit until they know where it is and the timing.'

On the public support and undertanding now of the America's Cup and AC72's

'The (AC72) vision had a lot of doubters, and we weren’t sure ourselves as to how it would go. It was very complex, hard to maintain and hard to keep sailing. Over three years we went from being a monohull sailing team to racing AC72s at a top level. It was a unique challenge and I am proud of how our team adapted and achieved along the way.

Analysis of why Emirates Team NZ did not win the 34th America's Cup

'There is no one single factor. Before we started racing we were very nervous because we had done a lot of analysis on the American boat and felt it had quite good speed potential. We started the regatta against a team that was underprepared and off the pace. They weren’t sailing the boat particularly well, and their crew-work wasn’t hat great. So there were a lot of opportunuities where we were able to pass them, particularly on the upwind legs.

'Early on it became apparent that they were improving quickly. There were a number of delays and wind issues, the delays allowed Oracle to go back and analyse how they were sailing the boat, and look at what we were doing, and learn how to achieve more speed than we could ever do upwind.

'They managed to get on top of the foiling right at the very end. They had something on their boat that was better suited to enable them to foil up wind.

On Oracle's electronic foil setting and its legality

'We had looked at the option, but within the rules we didn’t think it was legal (to use the same type of foiling control device as Oracle ). These are very complex systems. There is a real grey area with stored power and manual power. We viewed the system they had in place as not being legal, but in the end it was cleared by the measurers and we had to abide by their decision. We weren’t happy about their decision, but we weren’t able to do anything about it.

'In the process of the last month before the America’s Cup, there was a lot going on. The Oracle cheating scandal – the Jury were dealing with that and the Measurers tied up in that as well.

'So it was hard to be as fully focused on some of the other issues that we would have liked dealt with in a better way. But in the end you have to go and race. We felt we had led all the way – from launching in July 2012, first to foil and master all the techniques that go with that – and the other teams were playing catch up all the way. And unfortunately for us, in the end it was just two weeks too late. Oracle were able to watch everything we were doing and then with the resource they had were able to try and develop and get we were and then improve on that.

On whether more money would have made a difference to Team New Zealand

'More money doesn’t always mean better performance or results, because it can create more issues or not. But where money in this type of thing can help is to take on special projects. Everything we did had to end up on the boat, or have a good chance of ending up on the boat. With more money you can do special projects off to the side, with the hope that one or two of those might actually end up on the race boat itself, and give you the advantage that need over the competition.

'It is not so much money, but the partnership with a technology based company that allows you to keep on developing.

On his relationship with Jimmy Spithill:

'It is fair to say that I haven’t caught up over a beer with him (Jimmy Spithill), and I don’t intend to either.

'I have a healthy respect for Spithill’s sailing ability and everything else. People can think what they like about the mind games. I have been around the (America’s Cup) game for quite a while, and you have to deal with a lot of pressure at times and the Press Conferences are exactly that – an opportunity for people to say what they think. We were very happy going into the Finals and the Cup itself.

'The momentum started to swing well before it was 8-1, but they just kept on making mistakes. As the event went on they made less mistakes and got better performance and that translated into results. There certainly wasn’t a moment in a Press Conference when we threw in the towel, and rolled over.

On the New Zealand effort in San Francisco:

'Losing is not something you want to be good at. But my belief is that we put in everything we could have. Unfortunately the other guys were a little bit better when it counted. It is very hard to swallow that. As long as you can walk away knowing that you have done everything you possibly can. You can have pride in what you have achieved and everything else, it doesn’t help the disappointment. The other option is to pack it in and walk away – and that is not a New Zealand attitude.

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