Rob Waddell and Dean Barker stand after they were welcomed
home at Auckland International Airport this morning. Photo
/ Greg Bowker
Team New Zealand crew members touched down on home soil
this morning to a heroes' welcome.
Skipper Dean Barker said the reaction from fans was "mind
Hundreds of fans camped out at Auckland Airport from before
5.30am to catch the team coming off their plane from San
Loud cheers erupted as the Kiwi team walked through the
arrival gates to be met by family after almost five months
away from home.
Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker had been
spotted checking in at the business-class counter at San
Francisco Airport yesterday afternoon with wife Mandy, their
children and a woman believed to be their nanny.
A woman who saw them at the airport said Barker still looked
like he was carrying the burden of the loss.
"He looked like he was sad and I felt sorry for him.
"He and Mandy looked wrecked and he looked sad. The nanny was
taking care of the kids but when a Kiwi guy came up to them
they put smiles on and were pleasant.
"There haven't yet been any official plans for celebrations
for the team, despite calls for an event to be held.
At the Auckland on Water Boat Show yesterday, there was
support for a parade.
Stephen Western, from Russell, said Barker and the team could
not have done anything more.
"It was a huge effort and we're very proud of them," he said.
His son, Ben, who works at Cookson Boats and helped to build
Team NZ's AC72 Aotearoa, said the crew did outstanding work
with integrity and a great attitude and that deserved to be
Prime Minister John Key has said the $36 million put into
this year's regatta wasn't wasted.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said: "They need a
bit of space to think about what's next ... if they did want
to consider another challenge and wanted to talk to us about
the Government supporting it alongside others, then we'd
treat that seriously."
- Amelia Wade