NZ Herald. By Dylan Cleaver.
It is a miserable day on the Solent, a grey strip of water that separates the southern coast of England from the Isle of Wight. The teeming rain, tidal currents and fluky winds will make sailing tough and viewing unpleasant, but nobody at Team New Zealand is complaining. They're about to race a boat, something they've barely done since losing the America's Cup in agonising circumstances close to two years ago.
In the intervening months they've been mocked for choking on an 8-1 lead, been lampooned for asking for more public money and been savaged for the manner in which Dean Barker was removed as skipper. Several good people have packed up and left the Halsey St base including lead designer Nick Holroyd and highly regarded sailors Derek Saward, Jeremy Lomas and Winston Macfarlane. Chairman Keith Turner, who never appeared at ease in the role, quit his post after 12 months, while the America's Cup Events Authority reneged on an agreement awarding Auckland hosting rights for the qualifying series, ending Team NZ's chances of further Government funding.
Much of the ill-will towards the team has been directed towards its knotty chief executive, Grant Dalton. Fuelled by barbs from Oracle Team USA hardmen Russell Coutts and Jimmy Spithill and trenchant criticism from media pundits, Dalton has been dressed up as the pantomime villain, an enemy to compromise and, frankly, a giant pain in the arse.
As Dalton steadies himself to jump from a sponsors' spectator craft to the Team NZ chase boat, a challenging task in the conditions, long-time bowman and now part of the executive team Richard Meachem offers a helping hand before mischievously tripping Dalton and sending him splashing in an undignified heap on to the sodden deck.
Now there's a sight plenty would have paid to see: the Giant Pain in the Arse brought to his knees by one of his own.
Go on, admit it. Deep down, in the places you don't care to reach into, you don't really like Grant Dalton OBE. You're not sure exactly why, but the animus lurks.
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