The Emirates Team New Zealand triumph over Oracle Team USA, which earned him a return to the America’s Cup for his country after 14 years of desert travel has been like the resurgence of the phoenix in the world sailing of the Hand of unwavering will: Grant Dalton.
New Zealand’s splendor came with the 1995 and 2000 editions with Russell Couts as skipper and Peter Blake as team manager but it all took an unexpected turn a few months later when Coutts left the team and left with a new Swiss team Creation, the ‘Alinghi’ of Ernesto Bertarelli.
With him he took the New Zealand sailing elite, sailors like Grant Simmer, Brad Butterworth, Warwick Fleury, Simon Daubney and Murray Jones among others.
The New Zealand team was seriously ‘touched’ in its competition structure and another hit came on December 5, 2001 when Sir Peter Blake, the team’s director and soul, was killed by pirates in Macapá (Brazil).
Internal struggles and economic problems weakened the team that came forward in the 2003 defense technically unprepared to the Swiss ‘Alinghi’ patronized by Coutts and with many of his crew from Team New Zealand.
That’s why no one missed the 5-0 loss to the Swiss who, with unlimited resources, were the first team to win the Copa America in their first participation.
From that defeat, Grant Dalton became, that same year, the head of the equipment New Zealander.
The next disappointment came in the 2007 edition in Valencia, when Team New Zealand lost the final (5-2), again, to ‘Alinghi’, now led by American Ed Baird.
The hardest time in the history of New Zealand sailing would be in the 2013 edition when, competing on catamarans, they fell again in the final, in San Francisco, and now against the American ‘Oracle’ 9-8, after That the Australian James Spithill remarked the New Zealanders a 1-8 against.
This new defeat seemed to be the end of the New Zealand team, which would lose even their government’s support in funding the team, but Dalton resisted it.
He traveled around the world to find sponsorships and succeeded. In addition, men like Matteo de Nora and Sir Stephen Tindall, his two greatest patrons, helped him to find new incomes and to maintain his main sponsors.
Grant Dalton made the most difficult decision of his life: the resignation of Dean Barker, the skipper who had lost the 2003, 2007 and 2013 finals, but very respected in the country, appointing a young talent Of 24 years, then Olympic champion of the 49er class. Named Peter Burling and who had won the Young America Cup in 2013.
He was joined by a 37-year veteran, Glenn Ashby of Australia, a Tornado-class Olympic champion and 16-times world champion, who would be the crew chief and who had already competed against the Kiwis in 2013.
This caused a new internal crisis in the team, but Dalton remained unshakable and withstood the march of the ‘old guard’ men as chief designer Nick Holroyd and crew Winston Macfarlane, Derek Saward and Jeremy Lomas, considered the best Bow of the world.
With a team of young talents, almost all newcomers, with new innovations in what is seen today in high-flying ‘catamarans’, Grant Dalton, who on July 1 will turn 60, a great fan of motorcycle racing even competing In those of the Isle of Man, the thorn of the humiliations suffered before James Spithill, Russell Coutts and many more have returned to their country their greatest pride: the America’s Cup.