GRANT DALTON: “We are focusing on our plan, on what we can control”

Published on July 29th, 2013

Given the shortage of challenging teams for the America’s Cup, and now the competitive imbalance amongst the teams, the two month Louis Vuitton Cup race schedule seems a bit… long.

With Emirates Team New Zealand going undefeated to win the Round Robin segment, and no team appearing able to threaten them, it begs the question of whether the challenger selection series will prove to be a benefit to the challenger, or a detriment.

“We agreed upon this plan just over a year ago,” noted ETNZ managing director Grant Dalton. “We knew for sure that ourselves, Luna Rossa Challenge and Artemis Racing would be there. The Korean Team was still a possibility, but we did not expect they’d be able to make it. I gave the French more of a chance, as Bruno Peyron knows how to raise money. So at most we thought there’d be four teams, instead of the three we have now.”

While the challenging teams must operate within the confines of their race schedule, the defender Oracle Team USA – with their two boat program – is not restricted in how they train during this period.

“Everyone talks about how much time Oracle has,” remarks Dalton. “But we all have the same amount of time. We set up our entire development plan around the race schedule, so we feel comfortable with this approach. The days we race provide both the competition we need, but also the repetitive training within that race schedule that prepares us for future races.”

“Certainly the lack of teams is not ideal. We rather there were more challengers for the event, for our sponsors, and to hopefully create more competition. But that is out of our hands; we can’t control that. So we are focusing our plan, on what we can control”

As the winner of the Round Robin segment, the Kiwi team had the option to compete in the Semi-Final series, or to take a break from completion and advance direct to the Finals. They chose the latter.

“We thought hard about doing the semifinals to get more racing and more starting, to get more race time under our belts,” skipper Dean Barker said. “But we also have a fairly large amount of work to do to our boat, a lot of changes and modifications intended to improve the performance.”

While Luna Rossa Challenge and Artemis Racing compete in the best of seven race Semi-Final series on August 6-15, the Kiwis will focus on a number of subtle changes which should, as Barker explains, “make us significantly faster around the course.”

Race Schedule/Standings
July 7- August 1: Challenger Round Robin; 5 rounds
August 6-15: Challenger Semi Finals; best of 7 races
August 17-30: Challenger Finals; best of 13 races
Sept 7-23: 34th America’s Cup; best of 17 races

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