Having beaten Luna Rossa by 22 seconds, condemning the Italians to a 5-0 exit from the Louis Vuitton Cup, Barker looked like a man who had banished his demons. He has taken a first important step towards making amends for the humiliation of that 5-0 defeat at the hands of Alinghi four years ago.
“I’m just rapt,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the guys on the boat - the whole team. It’s been a really tough journey. The round robins didn’t start our way, losing that match to Mascalzone. But I’m proud the way the team has bounced back and grown as we have come through.”
In terms of score line, the 5-2 defeat of Desafio Espanol in the Semi Finals has been the Kiwis’ toughest test so far. “The Semi Final was great. On reflection we will look back and say that racing Desafio and dropping two races to them has actually made us a much stronger and better team.
“I don’t think anyone on the team ever dreamed or believed that we would get through the Finals against a team like Luna Rossa in the way we did. It was certainly flattering but we never ever felt it was a comfortable series, it was always very tight.”
Barker paid tribute to Grant Dalton’s unique brand of management. “Anyone that knows Grant knows his work ethic - he pulls everything together, starts first in the morning, last to leave in the evening. He is 120% committed to making the team successful and that rubs off on all the guys. His drive and determination gets you through the sheer hard work.”
This is Barker’s second go as skipper of Team New
“They were the dark days of 2003 and even 2004, the key decisions which put this team back together, hard work and the money to be able to push the go button for the challenge. In terms of what will happen, we have got a lot better, I’ve got a huge amount of confidence in the team and the guys on the boat, we have managed to step a level for the final. The challenge is now to stay focussed and take another step going into the