Did you know Dean Barker and Chris Dickson both hail from the same school in Auckland? Neither did I, until today when I received a timely press release from the Westlake Boys High School. Actually Desafio tactician John Cutler is also from Westlake, but he’s standing on the naughty chair after his Kiwi salute to Vasco Vascotto a few days ago.
Anyway, it was Dean Barker’s turn to be headboy today, with Dickson given litter-picking duty in the playground. Dickson had the better of the pre-start and used his advantage to claim the left.
The Kiwis rolled off the line with USA 98, but after a couple of tacks, when Emirates broke way to the right BMW Oracle didn’t follow and carried on ploughing a lonely furrow to the left. By the time NZL 92 flopped back onto starboard, the lateral separation was massive.
At this stage the gain line gave a three boatlength lead to the Americans, but as a right-hand shift came in, the dial started spinning rapidly in Kiwi favour, and two minutes later they were almost 250 metres ahead. It was game, set and match from there.
The pre-race favourites lost it so badly that conspiracy theories are flying around Valencia. But it was just a bad weather call. The Americans wanted the left, won the left, and lost from the left. Which means that the Kiwis got to choose Spain for the Semis, while BMW Oracle faces a tougher challenge in Luna Rossa.
Not only will the Americans be ruing missed opportunities in today's match, but they will also regret that headsail foil breakdown against China Team all those days ago at the beginning of RR2. Looking at how sloppy the Spanish were today, winning the Round Robin is a definite ticket through to the LV Finals for ETNZ, although we shouldn’t read too much into the home team performance.
After a big night out on the town celebrating yesterday’s passage to the Semi Finals, the Spanish sailors’ complexions were matching their sickly green boat this afternoon. We can expect better in the Semi Finals, but it’s hard to see Spain causing much trouble for New Zealand.
What they said in the press conference:
Dean Barker, Skipper, Emirates Team New Zealand, on the dangers of choosing:
“It’s always tough in any match racing event when you have the opportunity to choose, because the top four teams are there because they’re fast. You choose your poison, and we’ve made the choice to race Spain.”
Chris Dickson, Skipper, BMW ORACLE Racing, on whether winning the Round Robins was worth fighting for:
“I think it’s certainly worth fighting for. That’s why Emirates Team New Zealand were out there, and that’s why we were out there. The bad news is we lost a boat race, the bad news is we don’t get to choose our poison. The good news is we don’t have to choose.”
Francesco de Angelis, Skipper, Luna Rossa, on the value of proper racing compared with in-house racing:
“With due respect to my team mates, when you race another team it is more valid, because you have things at stake. When you race your own team, if you make a mistake you can restart the exercise. When you race a team officially, you have one chance and that’s it. It’s a totally different game, and I’m sure that in racing you always learn and grow. I am not surprised at the set-up for these Semi Finals, and I’m sure that the guy who comes out of this will be a stronger competitor.”
Karol Jablonski, Skipper, Desafio Espanol 2007, on being chosen by New Zealand:
“There is no easy choice, and those teams are very strong, sometimes you choose the team that you are comfortable against but then you lose against them. Dean made the right choice. It gives us the opportunity to pay them back, so I thank you now for choosing us. It’s great for us to race New Zealand. We are really looking forward to race.”