Team New Zealand find their form and destroy the big boys

 Tough talk yesterday with plenty more column inches this morning on whether Dean Barker can hold onto the wheel and his position at Emirates Team New Zealand after their disappointing performance against Luna Rossa with young James Spithill on the helm.

Harsh treatment perhaps given that this loss was just one race in light airs and not the America’s Cup. But the detractors point to other races where the Kiwi boat seems to have lacked the muscle to really take the battle to it’s opponent.

Whether it was tough talk in the camp or a quiet reflection on how to make things better, today Dean and his team came out fighting and turned the tables in convincing style.

“He’s hard on himself and we were hard in the de-brief,” said Grant Dalton. “It’s a learning game for us, we’re a new team and this is the best in the world that we’re racing against, so you’ve got to perform under pressure.”

And perform they did. Not only did they win two races today, but they thrashed Alinghi, beating them by 1 minute 40 seconds. Oozing with confidence the Kiwis set about doing the same to BMW Oracle with the same result, a win, this time by 31 seconds.

The two achievements were made all the more impressive given the light conditions where it would have been all too easy to throw away their lead, something that their opponents’ skipper Chris Dickson acknowledged after the race.

“There were probably 25 moments where key decisions had to be made, and I think we got 20 of them right. Emirates Team New Zealand got 21 of them right,” he said.

Of the other key match of the day, the 39 Italian team put a point on the board in the first race when they beat the South African team Shosholoza, but lost in the second to K-Challenge.

“In the second one we got a serious drubbing,” said skipper Iain Percy, ever the self-effacing sailor.

“We turned back too late and put ourselves in a difficult position by being led back in from a long way out,” he said referring to the start when K-Challenge blasted away with just 30 seconds to go.

“It’s another lesson learned. It’s the same lesson I taught myself two days ago but I seem to have forgotten it,” he said.

But the disappointing second race masked an otherwise good performance where the boat handling was slick given the little time the team have spent on board.

Mind you, Luna Rossa’s tactician Charlie McKee had some helpful advice on the philosophy of winning and losing.

“You’re never as good as you look when you win, and you’re never as bad as you look when you lose,” he said, clearly having been there himself.

Lay day tomorrow, back on Saturday.


Flight 5

Match 1 ITA 74 beat FRA 57 delta 1:04

Match 2 NZL 81 beat SUI 64 delta 1:40

Match 3 ITA 59 beat RSA 48 delta 0:38

Match 4 USA 71 beat FRA 69 delta 1:11

Flight 6

Match 1 SUI 64 beat FRA 69 delta 2:27

Match 2 NZL 81 beat USA 71 delta 0:31

Match 3 ITA 74 beat RSA 48 delta 1:33

Match 4 FRA 57 beat ITA 59 delta 1:39


Team Name: (Points) Matches Won / Sailed

Emirates Team New Zealand (4) 4 5

Team Alinghi (4) 4 5

Luna Rossa (4) 4 5

BMW ORACLE Racing (3) 3 5

LE DEFI (2) 2 5

K-Challenge (2) 2 5

39 (1) 1 5

Team Shosholoza (0) 0 5


Follow the action live from Valencia as Matthew Sheahan, Andy Rice and James Boyd report from the course.

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