American Magic Entrust Campaign to Dean Barker
The US syndicate will have renowned New Zealander Dean Barker as helmsman for the America’s Cup in 2021, plus an international crew of sailors for the New York Yacht Club’s first bid for the Auld Mug in 15 years.
With the clock ticking, the newly established team reckons buying in top talent – rather than relying on homegrown sailors at this stage – is the best way to achieve their ambition in Auckland.
“To impact the sport the way that we want to, we have to win first,” American Magic skipper and executive director Terry Hutchinson told CNN Sport in Cowes, birthplace of the first America’s Cup in 1851.
American Magic is the only US challenger, alongside Italy’s Luna Rossa and Britain’s Ineos Team UK, bidding to topple defender Emirates Team New Zealand, which beat Larry Ellisson’s Oracle Team USA in Bermuda 2017.
Hutchinson believes American Magic – bankrolled by US businessmen Hap Fauth, Doug DeVos and Roger Penske – can help “reengage the US sailing population” and “reinvigorate the marine industry” after criticism in some quarters that the cutting-edge catamarans of the last Cup alienated the grass roots of sailing.
Barker – a five-time America’s Cup sailor who sailed with SoftBank Team Japan in Bermuda – was the obvious choice as helmsman.
“There’s very few people in the world who possess big-boat monohull experience and also have experience of the 2013 and 2017 programmes,” Hutchinson said. “And I can’t think of another person who is more due to win the regatta than him so it seems like a safe bet.”
For Team New Zealand there is the parallel challenge of planning the Cup, which will take place in Auckland Harbour and on the nearby Hauraki Gulf.
Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton says hosting the event for the first time since 2003 – “when we lost to that great seafaring nation of Switzerland” – will be “massive” for the Kiwis, citing Google-topping searches back home for the words “Emirates Team New Zealand”, and the nationwide turnout for the trophy tour the team undertook after their Bermuda triumph.
Dalton predicts the fan-friendly racecourses positioned close to the shore will attract about 300,000 spectators to watch the racing unfold “without the need for binos”.
The America’s Cup is set to begin on 6 March 2021.
Original article by Rob Hodgetts, CNN, September 14, 2018.
Photo by Rob Melotti.