Barker sets course for Cup team
New Zealand sailor Dean Barker has gained a place in the prestigious Congressional Cup for his new American Magic team as he continues to press his claims for a 2021 America’s Cup job.
Barker qualified for the Congressional Cup to be sailed later this week when he won the Ficker Cup qualifying event at Long Beach, California, on Tuesday (NZT) with a near flawless performance.
Barker beat Sweden’s Johnie Berntsson in the final and lost just one of 13 races over the three days of match-racing.
He was at the helm for American Magic, the New York Yacht Club outfit he hopes to join for the next America’s Cup in Auckland.
As far as auditions go, Barker couldn’t have had a better start with his NYYC sailing boss Terry Hutchinson alongside him as tactician.
‘‘It’s an honour to win the trophy named after Bill Ficker,’’ Barker said after his victory.
‘‘It’s been a fantastic week, it feels a little like coming home to Long Beach. This has been a fantastic opportunity for our American Magic team to go sailing in a competitive environment, and get back into the match racing game.
American Magic now stay on in Long Beach for the Congressional Cup regatta, one of the world’s premier match-racing events which Barker won in 2000 and 2005 and Hutchinson claimed in 1992.
Barker, the former Team NZ skipper who switched to Team Japan for the last America’s Cup in Bermuda after being snubbed by the Kiwis for an on-board role, had fellow Kiwi James Dagg on board the American boat.
Up-and-coming Japanese helmsman Leonard Takahashi, 19, was in awe of Barker’s efforts at the Ficker Cup.
‘‘I’m still trying to figure out how we got into a position to get to race Dean Barker. It was truly a humbling experience, and I’m thankful to Dean for giving us a lesson,’’ Takahashi said after finishing fourth.
American Magic will see Barker’s America’s Cup experience and intimate knowledge of the Auckland waters as a real bonus if he can continue to deliver results.