|(America’s Cup) Cynical New Zealanders hit new lows
Emirates Team New Zealand, which had earlier cynically asked Team USA boss Russell Coutts to congratulate them, was left shaking their heads and wondering what hit them after suffering one of the worst collapses in sports history in the 34th America's Cup.
The Kiwis allowed Oracle Team USA to rally from seven points down and take the series 9-8 as the American closed out the longest America's Cup in history with a winner-take-all victory Wednesday on the San Francisco Bay in the US.
“We didn't get the last one we needed to take it back to New Zealand. It is hard to swallow,'' said New Zealand skipper Dean Barker, AFP repors.
New Zealand jumped out to a early lead in the series and appeared to be headed to certain victory last Wednesday when they held a seemingly insurmountable 8-1 lead.
The Americans won the final eight races, including Wednesday's contest by 44 seconds in the first winner-take-all final race since 1983.
The loss was especially heartbreaking for Team New Zealand general manager Grant Dalton who said Wednesday there is a strong chance he would not be back.
“I have probably done my time,'' said Dalton, of Auckland.
Ask if the others would remain with the team, Dalton said money will be a determining factor.
“It is too early to say. Honestly it will be quite difficult now. I always felt that it will be difficult for the team to stay together, particularly financially.''
Hardly anyone, except a determined US team, saw this comeback coming. New Zealand Olympic Committee bosses were especially left red-faced last week after asking Team USA boss Russell Coutts to send a congratulatory message to his America's Cup rivals.
Coutts was included in an email that was also addressed to fellow New Zealand Olympic medallists last week – when the Kiwis were ahead 7-1 – asking for input for a “vid of congratulations''.
“We were really happy with the boat and the equipment we had,'' said New Zealand tactician Ray Davies. “The American boys just found another couple of gears through the regatta and hats off to them. They did a fantastic job.''
Despite the mammoth collapse, the 41-year-old Barker said his teammates gave it their all.
“We felt we didn't leave anything on the table. We know we had a fight on our hands,'' said Barker, of Auckland.
Davies said they were just out-gunned by a faster craft.
“It felt like it was a tough regatta. We were going well. We thought the boat was going well and we had it optimized. We couldn't do much more with it.''