“Could Not Lift My Arms”

16 Sep

Hey, Dean Barker, everybody missed one backstory item in your press conference on Sunday. You won a race, and you lost a race, and with that loss . . .

You set a record.

15/09/2013 - San Francisco (USA,CA) - 34th America's Cup - Final Match, Day 6America’s Cup/Gilles Martin-Raget

As dawn broke over the East Bay hills that morning, September 15, 2013, you were tied with Australia’s great America’s Cup challenger, Jim Hardy (Sir James to me) for a record of twelve Cup races, as helmsman, lost.

Hardy skippered for Australia in 1970, 1974 and 1980. Gretel II, Southern Cross and Australia. You’ve skippered Team New Zealand in 2003, 2007 and 2013. At the end of Race 9, Match 34, you advanced to thirteen America’s Cup races lost as skipper, qualifying you for a place in the Guinness Book of Records, supplanting Sir.

I think he doesn’t mind.

The story pales, of course, alongside your odds, as skipper of Emirates Team New Zealand, of winning the America’s Cup this time around. Pales, unless you’re the guy who just passed along that (ahem) other record.

Hardy’s all-on for your win. Oh, you ANZAC guys . . .

hardy 017Jim Hardy, in focus, and if I were GMR or Bobby G perhaps I’d get ETNZ, the red background dot, also in focus. But, I’m just hackin’ along.

Jim comments, “I look at the number 17 on the side of the Oracle boat, and I wonder, because very rarely has an odd-number boat won the Cup. Think back through it. It’s true.

So, what does it mean to lose the America’s Cup?

Barker and Hardy both have history. Barker, you should remember, took the handoff from Russell Coutts in the New Zealand defense of 2000, was given the helm for a final-race win, and became the anointed knight for the 2003 defense, which can best be summed up as a national embarrassment. Come 2007, there was a ridiculous barrage of blather about whether or not Barker had the “right stuff.” He came out of that 2007, 2-5 loss to Alinghi’s faster boat with anyone and everyone seeing that he did and does have the right stuff, and he’s looking a little bit good at the moment.

So, what does it mean to lose the America’s Cup?

‘Tis an ever-open question.

In Valencia, Spain in 2007, a few days after Barker and Emirates Team New Zealand failed to win the Cup, I killed some time with Jim Hardy while he waited for his airport connection. We fell to talking about how hard it must be—must have been, in the now that was then—for the New Zealand team. It’s not as though they were overwhelmed. They took two races and threatened in others. They were close enough to taste winning, and part of the mindset of a competitor is to wake up in the morning believing that you’re going to win. Losing takes adjustment. Both teams in 2013 have shown that they come to the starting line, every time, expecting to win.

Jim Hardy told me, “At the end of the racing in 1970, I stood at the wheel of Gretel II, and I couldn’t lift my arms. I had really believed we were going to beat Intrepid, and the weight of that just took over.

“I could not lift my arms.

“I could not lift my arms.”

Thanks for the memories—Kimball



This article was syndicated from BLUE PLANET TIMES


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