Kiwi skippers to feature in Dubai opener today

DUBAI — Kiwi skippers will meet head-to-head tomorrow in the opening match race of the Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai as Dean Barker, skipper of Emirates Team New Zealand, faces off against Gavin Brady, steering the Italian entry Mascalzone Latino Audi.

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Published: Mon 15 Nov 2010, 12:30 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 2:47 AM

Good wind conditions are forecast for the match, the first of 45 races over nine days to determine the seeding for a best-of-three semi-finals followed by a best-of-five finals that will wrap up on November 27.

Teams will race in the ETNZ boats NZL 84 and NZL 92. Barker lost the draw for the favoured right-hand entry to the starting box but that gave him the opportunity to select NZL 92, the boat he raced to win the Louis Vuitton Cup in Valencia in 2007. Boats have been modified and tuned for similar performance but of the two, NZL 92 has remained the preferred choice of skippers throughout the Louis Vuitton Trophy racing.

Under the system devised for boat allocation in Dubai, the crews will remain aboard the same boats for their second race tomorrow, but this time, Barker will also enjoy the advantage of right-hand entry to the start area.

Barker is the undisputed top dog of the closely-fought Louis Vuitton Trophy racing, with victories in Auckland and La Maddalena and a second place to Italy’s Azzurra in Nice. He also won the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in Auckland.

Barker discounted the possibility of any significant advantage in his boat choice. “The way they are configured, the boats are very even,” he said. “There’s very little in it. NZL 92 just holds fonder memories.”

The two Kiwis first competed as teenagers in New Zealand. “We raced against each other in P-Class dinghies back in 1986,” Barker recalled. “Since then we’ve crossed paths on many occasions in different boats, in match racing, Kenwood Cups, all kinds of events. It’s a very intense rivalry. Gavin’s a very focused, very aggressive match racer. When he’s on his game, he’s very hard to beat but at times he pushes it a bit too hard and there are opportunities to be had there. He’s a tough competitor with a very good crew so he’ll be a tough opponent.”

Brady, who now makes his home in Annapolis, confirmed the pair had a long history racing against each other. “Dean’s a very good competitor but at the end of the day we’ve always been able to have a beer together.” Noting their respective win-loss records, he added: “It’s been a little his way, of late. We need to turn that around.”

Looking towards the finish of the Louis Vuitton Trophy series and the end of the International America’s Cup Class, Brady commented: “These boats have been a part of our lives. These boats have really made a lot of us the sailors we are today. So, it’s going to be sad to see them go but it’s definitely time for a change.”

In the other pairings tomorrow, Sweden’s Artemis Racing (USA 87) will meet Synergy Russian Sailing Team (USA 98) and the French/German All4One (NZL 84) will race against BMW Oracle Racing (NZL 92).

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