21 May 2015

Barker confident Team Japan will be competitive

5:44 pm on 21 May 2015

The former Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker is confident he can create a competitive America's Cup team now that he's taken over as skipper and chief executive of Team Japan.

In February Barker was replaced as Team New Zealand's helmsman and offered an shore based role which he turned down.

Team Japan was only confirmed as a challenger earlier this month and their first race is scheduled to be the America's Cup World Series event in Portsmouth in July.

Barker concedes syndicates that are late in committing to an America's Cup campaign often struggle but he believes Team Japan will be different.

"(That) definitely played in the back of my mind but this cycle (campaign) is different. With the cost reductions and different things that are being discussed in terms of what is going to happen with the new class of boat it allows new teams to come in at a later period.

"We'll have the ability to buy a design package from Oracle which will give us a very good boat and from there it's up to us to learn how to sail and develop it," he said.

The approach from Team Japan only came a month ago said Barker.

"My passion has always been America's Cup and the opportunity to stay racing and the ability also to now lead a team is something that is really cool...I obviously gave it a fair amount of thought but it's something I really wanted to take on."

Dean Barker is the new skipper and CEO of Team Japan.

Dean Barker is the new skipper and CEO of Team Japan. Photo: Supplied

Barker has a busy time ahead as he tries to recruit a team to race at the first America's Cup World Series event in Portsmouth in July.

"We're filling the key roles on the team as quickly as we can. I think we're pulling together a very strong team. We want to compete at the head of the fleet and we're assembling a team that is capable of doing that. Our goal is to win the America's Cup," Barker said.

Oracle and the challenging syndicates from Sweden, France, Britain, Italy and New Zealand had initially agreed on a 62-foot foiling catamaran, known as an AC62, for the next event.

However, Oracle and the Swedish, French and British challengers then opted to reduce the size of the boat to an AC45 class, which drew protests from the New Zealanders and Italians who had already begun development work on the bigger yacht.

Team New Zealand, whose own challenge had been in doubt after organisers withdrew the offer to hold a warm-up regatta in Auckland prior to the America's Cup in Bermuda, have had better news in recent weeks with the confirmation of key sponsorship agreements.

Airline Emirates and watchmaker Omega confirmed they would support the team after the New Zealand government all but withdrew any potential financial support after the Auckland regatta was cancelled.

Team New Zealand have appealed the organisers' decision to cancel the Auckland event.

Dean Barker in the America's Cup:

1995 - trains with Team New Zealand

2000 - America's Cup winner with Team New Zealand, helming the deciding race

2003 - skipper, unsuccessful defence of America's Cup with Team New Zealand

2007 - skipper, winner, Louis Vuitton Cup

2013 - skipper, winner, Louis Vuitton Cup