Two captains of America's Cup

Two captains of America's Cup

Dean Barker and Jimmy Spithill interviewed New Zealand Radio...
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New Zealand Radio has invited the skippers of the latest America's Cup, Jimmy Spithill (Oracle Team USA) and Dean Barker (Team New Zealand). MainSail.Ru translated some fragments of both interviews.

Dean Barker, skipper of Team New Zealand.

When you spend three years preparing for the start, and then you give all your strength to the fight, and it all ends, it's like you're in a black hole. It's great to finally be home and feel the support of family and friends.

What are the team's plans for the future America's Cup?

For us there is nothing definite yet, we are waiting for the protocol of the future competition, which is expected in March-April 2014. Many aspects of our communication with potential sponsors depend on it.

Despite your loss, the government supported you with 5 million...

We are very grateful to our government for the financial support that allowed the team to retain its core and key personnel. It was not an easy decision for the government to make in the current situation.
The government's participation in our team is very important, as we do not have a billionaire patron. However, Team New Zealand has become a brand in its own right and it is very important for the country to maintain the image of the national team, as it demonstrates, above all, the high level of development of the New Zealand yachting industry, which has such a high level of trust in the world.

With this temporary funding, we «bought» some time. Together with Grant Dalton (General Manager of Team NZ) we were recently in Europe, meeting with a number of possible sponsors. They love our team there and they don't mind taking part in the next Cup, but they also want to know first where and when it will take place.

Why did Team NZ not win?

We started the regatta against a team that was under-prepared and had not yet gained the right pace.
The Oracle team's work and the catamaran control were not perfect. So we had the opportunity to beat them somewhere, particularly on the aviator. But our rivals were quick to learn and gain experience. The extra time they got as a result of the cancellation of races due to weather conditions, they used it to their best advantage. And by the end of the match, they began to confidently go to the manoeuvre. They had something on board that helped them to keep the «flight» mode stable on counter courses.

Some electronic control system that Oracle used and Team New Zealand didn't?

It's not that we have that system. No. We were considering installing a similar control mechanism that Oracle had at its disposal. But we felt that such a system would not be legal under existing rules. But the race committee approved such a system, and we didn't think it was possible for us to challenge that decision. We didn't like it, but we were powerless to do anything about it.

Just before the start of the Cup there was a scandal about Oracle cheating. The international jury acknowledged the violation of rules by Oracle, at the same time the race committee has not noticed changes made to the Oracle catamaran for a long time.

Did you feel a really big difference with your rivals because of the difference in budgets of the teams?

More money is not always the guarantee of higher performance or results. It is important to have money for special projects. If you have more money, you can try different ways to solve a problem without distracting the core team from their direct work. And one of these parallel projects can work and give the necessary advantage.

Speaking about press conferences, when James Spithill at the score 1-8 very confidently declared that Oracle can win, many people believed in the psychological impact on you from the skipper of the Americans...

I have a healthy respect for James Spithill and his qualities as a racer. Some people think there's been some kind of psychological game between us.
I've been in the «America»'s Cup for a while. There's always a lot of psychological pressure, and the press conference is one of those places where the pressure is especially high.

Speaking of what they could still win, Spithill started long before the 1-8 result, but despite his confident statements, Oracle continued to make mistakes until it brought the score to match point. So, we can not say that at the press conference we were afraid of the words, threw the white flag and gave up.

James Spithill, Oracle's skipper...

From the very beginning of the campaign, we've had a lot of problems, and despite the tight planning, something happens that doesn't go according to plan.
When we were in a match point situation, we told ourselves that we were going through more difficult situations as well. All we have to do now is to concentrate and do our job. The greatest fear for each of us at that moment was to let our partners down about the team.

What can you say about the rule violations for which the jury punished Oracle right before the match started?

We didn't know anything about what happened to our AS45 catamaran. I don't think it was a fair decision as it was a very different catamaran, but we made the decision of the Jury as binding.

What changes have been made on board the Oracle, which made it possible to dramatically increase the stability of navigation?

The biggest change was the way we operated the cattle.

AC72 catamarans are only slightly in contact with the surface of the water, to control them - something out of the row, and we learned to do it already in the process of competition.
The two best teams in the world went nose to nose, and we had a lot to learn every day.

We've made some adjustments to the mainsail settings, reconfiguring it like we do with normal sails. The biggest progress we've made has been in how to operate the catamaran and keep it in full «flight» mode on counter courses. It was nothing less than the hardest physical work for our greeners, as well as good coordination between the helmsman, mainsail trimmer and greeners.

There was a lot of talk about some computer control system...

Our catamaran was measured before and after each race. The same thing happened to the Team New Zealand catamaran. Every single day. Both catamarans have a similar hydrofoil system and control over them. It takes a tremendous amount of hydraulic power to move this system. We had central pumps that pumped up pressure, and these pumps were powered by human energy.

The «system» control button was on the steering wheel, and if I pressed the button, the guys had to twist the winch handles as hard as they could to make it work.

It was funny to listen to all these stories about conspiracy and mythical computer systems. In fact, it was all about hard physical work.

Both teams were trying «to get the» catamarans up on the wings on the aviators before the final match. Once you learn how to do that, you get the advantage. But if you make a mistake, you lose a lot more. The most important thing in this case is the unprecedented hard physical work to coordinate both the mainsail and the wings.

The Grinders worked 100%. And the heart rate watts were the same as in heart attacks.

What made you one of the best riders in the world?

I think it's above all luck and that I've always been surrounded by good people. I've also worked hard. Besides, for Australia, it's a traditional sport. In my time, I got into match racing and that eventually led me to the «America»'s Cup.

What's your relationship with Dean Barker?

Each of us understands that in order to win, he has to squeeze everything out. The New Zealand team is the strongest in the world, the kiwi are the recognized leaders in this sport. Going out to a match with such a team, you must remember it clearly. We are rivals during the match, but after the fight between us there is nothing but respect. This is a sport, someone wins, someone loses.

How do you see yourself in the future of America's Cup?

For me Oracle Team USA was a way of life. We won the Cup in Valencia and we defended it in San Francisco. Larry Ellison is part of the team, he's more than the team owner - he's my friend. Russell Coutts is the man I learned a lot from. I really owe a lot to these people, and I don't see myself on a team other than Oracle.

You can listen to the full interviews here:

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