Emirates Team New Zealand skipper, Dean Barker leads a double life.
Fixing the Nexus Marine wind gear to the end of ETNZ’s AC45 bowsprit - can you get a tougher work environment?
While most know him for this exploits in three America’s Cups, Barker is also a Director of Auckland based Kiwi Yachting Consultants who in turn own Nexus Marine AB, the Swedish based manufacturer of marine instrumentation.
Dean Barker is a Director of Nexus Marine, as well as being Emirates Team NZ’s skipper for the past seven years.
Barker is a co-director with Richard ('Molly') Macalister one of New Zealand’s ocean racing legends, who as a 23year marine biology student, raced aboard Peter Blake’s iconic Ceramco Whitbread Round the World Race campaign. All had became household names by the end of the race, marked by Ceramco’s dramatic dismasting midway through Leg 1, and the outstanding recovery effort to sail a longer course but finish the race.
Several of the Ceramco crew set up successful marine businesses, and Kiwi Yachting Consultants was one of these. The combination of Barker and Macalister, in their guises as America’s Cup, Offshore and Trans-Oceanic racers, brings that edge and sailor’s eye to the business and its products that only many thousands of racing sea miles can do.
Sail-World caught up with Barker in the headquarters of Kiwi Yachting Consultants and Nexus Marine in Auckland’s Grey Lynn, just before he headed off to skipper the Emirates Team New Zealand entry in the next round of Extreme 40’s in Qingdao, China.
In the accompanying video interview Barker backgrounds why he became involved in Kiwi Yachting Consultants and then Nexus Marine, 'it’s a developing brand in the market,' Barker explains. 'It has proven to be a very good option in the market. Having a passion for the instruments and the experience that went with it, gave us a lot of confidence to move forward.'
The Emirates Team New Zealand AC45 campaign has given Nexus Marine a chance to get some serious sea testing done. Currently a Nexus wind transducer is being used out on the end of the AC45’s bowsprit to give a variety of wind speed and angle readings (when it is not underwater). It is hard to imagine a more extreme environment for wind gear, which must give the sailing market confidence in its reliability.
The major offshore focus for Barker and Nexus in 2011 is the Tour de France, starting in Dunkirk and finishing in Monaco which will be sailed in new identical M34’s designed by Bernard Nivelt. Nexus Marine have been chosen as the official electronics supplier supplier for the fleet which is expected to attract 20 entries.
Barker explains that they will be supplying three XL-20 displays on the mast, Nexus multi controllers, GPS, HBC compasses. It will be a very good test for the equipment, says Barker. 'The Nexus gear will be used day in day out in a tough racing environment. I hope to get there to do a few of the legs', he adds.
The Nexus Marine range is not just aimed at the racing market.
Karma Police, the Rob Shaw designed 30fter carried a full Nexus instrumentation to punch well above her weight in the recent Two Man Round North Island Race
There are three levels covering everything from the small cruising boat (NX range). The NX2 is designed for the cruiser racer or the racing sailor looking for a few more features and the top end of the range is the NXR aimed at serious racing market. 'We’re providing good quality information and reliability', Barker explains. The Nexus stable has good pedigree – with the likes of Karma Police (a 30fter which placed second in the recent Round North Island Race) and Jim Farmer’s well known Georgia Racing a 52ft close sister, of Emirates Team NZ’s double Audi MedCup winner.
Latest move for the range is into superyachts with the Alloy yachts constructed Vertigo carrying Nexus Marine.
And what does Barker, the America’s Cup skipper look for in an instrumentation system?
It’s all on the video…
Karma Police (foreground) and Akatea to leeward - SSANZ Round North Island Race 2011