America’s Cup: Kiwi team finds optimism amid defeat

Published on October 20th, 2013

There was strong sentiment within Emirates Team New Zealand that if they did not win the 34th America’s Cup, the team would be done. They simply could not see a way forward to financially continue competing in an event that has had Kiwi involvement since 1987.

But now, nearly a month after defender Oracle Team USA’s remarkable comeback win from being down 8 to 1, the team is feeling differently, as reported by Paul Lewis in The New Zealand Herald…

In a strange way, Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison and archrival and Oracle Team USA chief executive Sir Russell Coutts have played key roles in the reviving fortunes of Emirates Team New Zealand.

The syndicate’s skipper, Dean Barker, says he, boss Grant Dalton and most other ETNZ people thought they were “done” as a team after OTUSA pulled off that spectacular, gutting comeback to defend the America’s Cup.

Ironically, says Barker, the “amazing” support in New Zealand for a beaten team at least partly came about because of Ellison’s and Coutts’ much maligned vision of ‘a summer of sailing’ in the compelling AC72 catamarans. The well-publicised capsizes, the death of Andrew Simpson, the much-criticised danger and on-the-edge nature of the boats (with Dalton doing some of the most vociferous criticising) saw only three challengers turn up and, of them, only ETNZ were able to foot it with Oracle.

Dalton’s views were accurate enough – the boats were too expensive and the danger and advantage OTUSA had in handling the big cats was enough to put off challengers.

The Louis Vuitton regatta limped along with one-boat “races” and no sailing at all on many days.

“There’s no question that unless the Cup match [between OTUSA and ETNZ] was what it was, the 34th America’s Cup probably would have gone down in history as one of the most under delivered events of all time,” says Barker.

“But the vision of Larry Ellison and Russell came together in the Cup match – only just and only just in time,” says Barker of the close racing that provided such a gripping spectacle.

“In a lot of ways, the regatta itself was like Oracle’s performance – they came together late in the piece and, unfortunately for us, just in time.” – Read on

Note: The New Zealand Government is set to discuss whether or not to fund another America’s Cup campaign on Monday, October 21. “If we make a decision to say yes it wouldn’t be a decision to say look here’s all of the money but it may be that they need a small amount of money to tide them over so that’s what we are looking at (on Monday),” said Prime Minister John Key. The Government invested $36 million in the last America’s Cup campaign.

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