AC34 - thumbs up or down?

Emirates Team NZ skipper Dean Barker airs his views
With 14 years background in the America’s Cup, in the R&D and design not to mention the sailing side, Emirates Team New Zealand has potentially had the most to lose from the dramatic changes announced by Russell Coutts for the 34th America’s Cup. While the announcement came as no shock - the date of 2013 rather than 2014 was more of a surprise than the choice of a catamaran - skipper Dean Barker says he is personally enthusiastic about the changes to be introduced, albeit with reservations. Personally he is going to have to go through the same re-training process that the likes of James Spithill and Ed Baird went through in 2008, having to fast track their learning about how to sail and compete in multihulls. Barker says they are currently assessing how best to do this. “There are obviously a lot of different avenues out there with the Extreme 40s, A-Class, F18s, Tornados, etc. It is a case of trying to understand the best way to develop and then to find out how to race wingsail catamarans.” This process is already underway. Having had no previous experience of multihull racing, apart from having competed in the Trophee Clairefontaine the French champion of champions event a decade ago, Barker has recently been having a play in an A-Class catamaran. Emirates Team NZ is lining up to participate in the final Extreme Sailing Series event of the season in Almeria over 9-12 October. As Barker puts it: “We are going to go and jump in the deep end. It’ll be great. I follow it a little bit. I’ve never done any of the racing but it will be quite interesting.” In New Zealand they also have access to Michel Desjoyeaux’s former Geant ORMA 60 trimaran that has been bought by Simon Hull and