Monday, January 19, 2009

LVPS: Dean Barker...playing catch-up

Yachting: Team NZ playing catch-up for regatta.
By Dana Johannsen NZ Herald
Russell Coutts, from BMW Oracle, sailing one of the yachts that will take part in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series. Photo / Greg Bowker

Team New Zealand yesterday hit the water for the first time in over 18 months as they gear up for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series beginning in Auckland in two weeks.

The Kiwi syndicate hadn't sailed a single day since the last race of the 32nd America's Cup in Valencia in July 2007, but yesterday got the opportunity to test out the waters, taking NZL 84 and NZL 92 out for sea-trials.

Despite 25- to 30-knot southwesterlies on the Waitemata making conditions rather hairy, Team NZ skipper Dean Barker said it didn't take long for the crew to refamiliarise themselves with the boats.

"It was interesting how quickly we kind of got used to it all again. It was great to get back out there and we had a good sail - it was a lot of fun," said Barker. "But it's going to take all of the next week or so to get back to a level we're sort of comfortable with."

Also out on the water yesterday was Kiwi sailor Russell Coutts, who took the opportunity to test out the black boat - albeit Oracle's - for the first time. The American syndicate have loaned their two boats used for their 2007 America's Cup campaign - USA 87 and USA 98 - for the two-week regatta.

With a number of his competitors for the inaugural regatta having already been training for a number of weeks, Barker said his crew would be playing catch-up over the next week and a half.
America's Cup holders Alinghi and several other teams have been getting in some solid match-racing practice in Valencia over the past two weeks in preparation for the series.

"We've got a bit of catching up to do on the other teams that have been training up in Valencia. They're going to be pretty well-schooled by the time they get down here, so we really need to use the opportunity this week and next week during practice to try and close the gap on where they're probably at," said Barker. Read more at NZ Herald