'Dean Barker, skipper of Emirates Team New Zealand, takes the helm of an Extreme 40 for the first time on day 1 of the Extreme Sailing Series™ Almeria.'
Paul Wyeth / OC Events
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Emirates Team New Zealand's skipper Dean Barker is making a sensational transition to the world of multihull sailing in the Australian A-class Championships being sailed at Lake Cootharaba, 400km south of Rockhampton, Northern Queensland.
In late November, Barker was in Dubai, UAE, sailing his final event in the 24 tonne America's Cup Class, to take the Louis Vuitton Trophy for the fourth time in five events.
Just over a month later he is lying fourth overall after two days, and four races in the Australian Int A-Class catamaran National Championships.
Over seventy competitors have entered the event, which boosts arguable the hottest national A-class catamaran fleet in the world.
Although he has suffered a little from downwind speed, Barker's first beat results have got everyone sitting up and paying attention. The fleet includes Glenn Ashby, a multiple World Champion in the International A-Class catamaran - an 18ft singlehanded multihull which must conform the to International A-Class rule.
Also in the top bracket at the regatta is Darren Bundock, helmsman in the silver medal winning Tornado catamaran at the 2008 Olympics, along with crew Glenn Ashby. Another Olympic Silver medalist (1996) in the Tornado class, Andrew Landenberger is in second place overall, with Bundock - a multiple world champion in the Tornado class in third and Barker fourth overall.
Barker has been a common sight on the Waitemata of late, as he trains for the A-class in preparation for a possible America's Cup entry in the next America's Cup due to be sailed in September 2013 in San Francisco. Team New Zealand have yet to announce whether they are entering the event, however this first-up performance of Dean Barker, in an extremely competitive fleet must be very encouraging, and will give the world's most successful professional sailing team confidence about their ability to make the transition to a multihull America's Cup.
Late last year Barker competed in an Extreme 40 catamaran event in Spain, with Darren Bundock in the crew. Glenn Ashby, a coach with BMW Oracle racing at the 33rd America's Cup is part of the Team New Zealand group undertaking 'due diligence' on a possible 34th America's Cup Challenge, for which entries close in just under three months on 31 March 2011.
Click here for today's report. Results can be viewed here
by Richard Gladwell
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4:55 AM Wed 5 Jan 2011GMT
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