America’s Cup 2021: Dean Barker reacts to American Magic’s Prada Cup defeat and his America’s Cup future

Dean Barker is taking a wait and see approach to his future in the America’s Cup, after the end of the American Magic campaign on Saturday.

The New York based syndicate lost both races – the second after serious gear failure – to confirm a 4-0 Prada Cup semifinal defeat to Luna Rossa.

Barker has been at the forefront of the American campaign, as the helmsman and a senior leader in the group, and the emotion was still raw hours after the race.

Barker is one of the Cup’s great survivors – he has helmed a boat in every regatta since 2000, apart from the Deed of Gift challenge in 2010 – but didn’t know if he wanted to commit to another cycle.

“With these things you never think about the next thing, because all you are worried about is trying to win,” said Barker. “Going out there today I still believed that we have a good opportunity to advance. We went out there with the right attitude and it wasn’t to be.

“It is going to take some time to reflect on all of this and to decide exactly what the right thing is to do next. You just don’t give yourself a moment to think about that.”

Barker admitted that the Cup quest was almost like a drug, but the 47-year-old also has family considerations.

“The America’s Cup will never be out of my system,” said Barker. “[But] I can’t really say what the future holds right now. It takes its toll for sure; I’ve got four kids and a wife that have been incredibly supportive over the many years and I really need to put some time into them as well…so who knows?

“I really want to be a good dad, as well as compete, so we will see what happens.”

The New York syndicate were always underdogs heading into the Prada Cup semifinal, given the numerous issues following the near sinking less than two weeks ago.

But their competition ended on a sad note, with gear failure in the fourth race compounding their misery, as the foil cant system malfunctioned.

It was difficult to take, for a team seen as the pre-Prada Cup favourites, and Barker was understandably emotional

“Pretty gutted to see it all end here,” said Barker. “We obviously didn’t have our best day yesterday and trying to get the thing back in the water and sailing in strong breeze was always going to be pretty challenging.

“It was shaping up to be a good last race but to have the [foil] cant system issues was disappointing.”

Barker said the nine days of potential development they lost due to the capsize was ultimately terminal to their hopes.

“The biggest issue you face is losing those days on the water, where ideally you would be continuing to develop,” said Barker. “We probably underestimated what impact that may have had, when you see how much Luna Rossa has moved on.”

American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson made it clear he would like to return for the 37th America’s Cup – wherever it is – but said that was a decision for the team principals and the New York Yacht club.

He also appeared to rule out any prospect of racing or training against Team New Zealand in the next few weeks.

“In fairness to all the competitors, my initial thought is that it is not the right thing to do,” said Hutchinson. “We have to be respectful to Ineos and Luna Rossa as well. They have skin in the game, and my initial thought is that it doesn’t feel like it would sit right. At that point you are just interfering with the future of the competition and that is not us.”

Heading into the Cup racing?

• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the Cup.

• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It’s the best way to ride.

• Don’t forget to scan QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app when on public transport and entering the America’s Cup Village.

• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup.

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