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big red dog?

big red dog?

Neither Camper/ETNZ’s near wire-to-wire win in an excellent (and largely windward/leeward) Auckland In-Port Race nor Camper’s second-place charge out of Auckland during the Leg 5 Start were enough to give Grant Dalton warm fuzzies about his underperforming Botin-designed boat, which can’t seem to match the JuanK designs on a reach.

In fact, Dalts is so annoyed that he publicly blamed longtime ETNZ designer Marcelino Botin for Camper’s performance problems in an interview the other day – the kind of critique almost never seen in yachting. "I lay that performance deficit in certain angles 100% at the feet of the designer. No doubt of that," Dalton said. He also said he hadn’t spoken to Botin about it. “I just guess we aren’t going to be building any boats together again."

We gave Dalts a ring to see if the report was accurate, and he confirmed, saying “You are totally reliant on the designer to get the boat right, in the end he leads you where he wants to, to a point. We’ll see how it develops, but when you are a commercial team, you expect results, and those start with the designers.”

“But Dalts,” we asked. “Wasn’t it your choice to go with Botin?”

“Our rationale to go to Botin seemed well placed,” Dalton said. “Puma last time was his first attempt, and it was not a bad boat. In fact, it won the second half of the race. He also designed our TP and the relationship between he and the
team has been a strong one, so it was only natural we would go that way. Of course I employed him, and in the end, all roads lead to me, but this is deeper. Maybe we can get what we need to win the race, but I’m also reaching for an answer to why Grand Prix racing has declined so sharply, and maybe this is part of it. There is not enough accountability in the sport from designers and the like. Many, many owners get burnt and never come back. The sport is in decline, ISAF has no influence or face except at the Olympics and so how does it get turned around?”

We hope to dig into this much deeper subject with Dalts soon – indeed, the thread is going off if you’ve got an opinion.