Wednesday, 6 June 2007

At last Dean smiles!

Dean Barker punched the air as he crossed the finish line of today’s decisive race, the first skipper to have won the Louis Vuitton Cup with a clean sweep. He even smiled. In fact he smiled a lot, as did the rest of the Kiwis, who did enough smiling and backslapping to make up for the past two months of tight-lipped stoicism that we have seen until today.

Having beaten Luna Rossa by 22 seconds, condemning the Italians to a 5-0 exit from the Louis Vuitton Cup, Barker looked like a man who had banished his demons. He has taken a first important step towards making amends for the humiliation of that 5-0 defeat at the hands of Alinghi four years ago.

“I’m just rapt,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the guys on the boat - the whole team. It’s been a really tough journey. The round robins didn’t start our way, losing that match to Mascalzone. But I’m proud the way the team has bounced back and grown as we have come through.”

In terms of score line, the 5-2 defeat of Desafio Espanol in the Semi Finals has been the Kiwis’ toughest test so far. “The Semi Final was great. On reflection we will look back and say that racing Desafio and dropping two races to them has actually made us a much stronger and better team.

“I don’t think anyone on the team ever dreamed or believed that we would get through the Finals against a team like Luna Rossa in the way we did. It was certainly flattering but we never ever felt it was a comfortable series, it was always very tight.”

Barker paid tribute to Grant Dalton’s unique brand of management. “Anyone that knows Grant knows his work ethic - he pulls everything together, starts first in the morning, last to leave in the evening. He is 120% committed to making the team successful and that rubs off on all the guys. His drive and determination gets you through the sheer hard work.”

This is Barker’s second go as skipper of Team New Zealand, but he says there is no comparison between the team then and the team now. “There are fundamental differences in this team to the team that lost the Cup in 2003 under the leadership of Grant Dalton, Kevin Shoebridge and what those guys have done.

“They were the dark days of 2003 and even 2004, the key decisions which put this team back together, hard work and the money to be able to push the go button for the challenge. In terms of what will happen, we have got a lot better, I’ve got a huge amount of confidence in the team and the guys on the boat, we have managed to step a level for the final. The challenge is now to stay focussed and take another step going into the America’s Cup.”


kiwicafe said...

I could not have put it better, thank you. I don't have television, haven't for 3 years and so the Internet is my window on the world.
My only comment would be/is, to ask Russel Coutts et al what their recompense to New Zealand will be, when will they be able to put their ghosts behind them.
And lastly it would appear that a strong leader, i.e. Grant Dalton, will always beat a committee any day. New Zealand needs a President, not a Prime Minister, oops, how did that slip out:). Great Blog, cheers, Richard Clark.

Tommaso said...

Hi, I'm an italian big fan of Luna Rossa Challenge. ETNZ win the LVCup Final with a very good series, sailing very well and without making mistakes. Congratulations to Dean Barker and all the team, they are the best.

Best wishes for the final.

Anonymous said...

Tacking his way home…

So the kiwis won 5-0 and had the chance to finally half-celebrate something after 3 years of flat line reactions. This is the real story of what can happen to you if you wake up in the middle of the night in Valencia.

3:45am - suddenly my eyes open and I realize it useless to try to close them again, that I have to do something to at least use this time of no-sleep. So I decide to wake up and turn on the TV. After skipping a couple of porn movies kindly provided by the Valencian local channels for the needy and desperate, I find something unexpected, a gift from heaven. The regional Valencian channel was re-running the fifth and final race of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the 5-0, the only one of all five that was a bit fun (at least in the last run). So I watch the pre-start, the steel balls move from Deano, the first port tack … and I think wow these kiwi guys must be happy.

Suddenly I hear a loud voice coming from the street… I look out the window of my apartment and I see a guy I was watching at that same time on TV. Same face, same uniform… but not the same mental state for sure. He was trying to find his way home talking on the phone, tacking all over the sidewalk, it took him at least 10 tacks to walk 5 meters.

He stops, pulls it out, and starts pissing on a small tree that ironically is just in front of the café where the BMW ORACLE Racing crew used to like to have a couple of drinks after work.

The vision is a paradox in itself, there he is, one of the best sailors in the world and also probably one of the happiest and drunkest men at that moment… sharing his piss with the person on the other side of the phone. He stops and starts again his way home.

Starboard tack, port tack, the sidewalk is his layline, back to starboard, layline of the façade of the building, again on port… and suddenly he disappeared.

This guy (not Deano) plays a tight close tacking game even in an advanced state of drunkenness at 4 in the morning. The Italians never stood a chance!