After an almost flawless five-day winning run – the regatta preliminaries last weekend and then proving to be unbeatable in the daily combined fleet and match racing contests – Emirates Team New Zealand faltered in the match racing final. The team's defeat came on the sixth day of racing in the America's Cup World Series, sailed at Cascais, Portugal.
Today the performance of earlier in the week counted for nothing. It was match racing final day and the skate was wiped clean of accumulated points.
Emirates Team New Zealand was straight through to the semi-final on the strength of its daily wins, as was Oracle 4.
Barker despatched Team Korea in the semi-final. James Spithill did the same with Artemis. Tension was in the air for the final between the two top-performing teams.
Barker said the team had made a number of uncharacteristic errors in the two final races sailed.
'We didn’t put together the performance we wanted. To win you have to get more right than the other team. Today we didn’t.'
The gennaker was again at the centre of the trouble: A wineglass at the third mark of the first race let Oracle 4 get away, yet Barker and crew were able to claw their way back into the race and twice took the lead only to have Spithill reclaim it.
In the second race Barker and crew led from the line and rounded the first mark in control but again gennaker handling gave Spithill the opportunity he needed to roll over the top and take the lead.
The crew never gave up the fight and a tacking duel closed the gap. At times it looked promising but Oracle 4 was never in grave danger. A large calm patch at the top mark cost NZ a lot of ground and the race were as good as over.
Barker said every team had learned a lot at Cascais about sailing catamarans in both fleet and match racing. Foundations were being laid for faster, closer and more exciting racing, he said.
'We will take a lot away from Cascais and look forward to the next World Series regatta at Plymouth in September.
But the Cascais regatta is not over yet. Tomorrow fleet racing returns with one winner-take-all race. The winner will be declared champion of the Cascais AC45 World Series regatta.