28 May 2017

Barker's narrow escape: 'Lucky not to have serious damage'

9:55 pm on 28 May 2017

New Zealand's Dean Barker was struck by the hull of rival BAR's boat in a start collision which left several crew with minor injuries, but his boat Softbank Japan team was able to recover and win.

The collision between Softbank Team Japan and Landrover BAR.

The collision between Softbank Team Japan and Landrover BAR. Photo: Twitter: @americascup

The collision came at the start of the encounter with British boat BAR, skippered by Ben Ainslie who also had a practice collision with Team New Zealand ten days ago, in Bermuda.

In an interview with RNZ, Dean Barker described the crash.

"The boat flew up pretty high, and slid sideways into us then landed on our hull.

Dean Barker said his crew were lucky to have escaped without serious injury after the crash.

Dean Barker said his crew were lucky to have escaped without serious injury after the crash. Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

"I think it was very lucky not to have any serious damage or injury"

"All the crew had to move, a couple of the guys got hit directly by the hull, I did as well, as the boat came crashing down on the steering wheel.

"I wasn't really sure that we were going to be able to race after that because your number one concern is the boat's structure.

"The boats are fragile so if you have any damage to the beam or the beam connections, the boat could easily start breaking up.

"You do a quick check, make sure there's nothing obvious, and take off down the reach at 40 knots and hope nothing goes bad."

Barker said the boat wasn't functioning as it should be and he wasn't able to adjust the steering as the steering wheel was damaged.

Both Barker and Ainslie said their boats needed to be inspected to see the extent of the damage and whether they can race tomorrow.

Only Barker's Softbank would be eligible to delay races it's due to have tomorrow, if it can't be repaired in time.

As the boat at fault, Ainslie's BAR would have to take any lost races on the chin.

Oracle claims double win

Oracle Team USA claimed two race wins during the first day of racing, winning their second race in a tight finish against Emirates Team New Zealand.

Team New Zealand had taken lead midway through the race but let that lead slip to fall to their first defeat, as defenders Oracle drew first blood between the bitter rivals.

Earlier, Team New Zealand beat the French entry Groupama by more than two minutes in their opening race to finish the first day of racing with one win and one loss.

Standings after the first day of races in the 35th America's Cup.

Standings after the first day of races in the 35th America's Cup. Photo: Screenshot: Emirates TeamNZ

-RNZ

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