SAN FRANCISCO – Fact or fiction? Every week we hear from people across the sailing world with supposed hot tips, insider information and wild rumors – or just plain BS – often accompanied by breathless assertions like, "I'm 99% sure this is true but don't quote me!" Yeah, right.
Even press releases are, in many cases, fake news (your Ed., of all people, understands that after being involved in every America's Cup since 1980), hence our disgust with the sailing website editors who do not much more than copy and paste press releases.
We disregard most rumors and "tips," and never go to print, or air, with anything not backed by multiple solid sources. So far in the five months Sailing Illustrated has been publishing (and thanks for your continuing and growing support!), all of our scoops have proven true, or largely so. Knock on wood!
Today we have heard from multiple sources that Terry Hutchinson, CEO/Skipper of NYYC's Bella Mente Quantum Racing Association ("BMQRA"), has hired Dean Barker (NZL) to drive Quantum Racing's TP52 next summer in the Med. SI has long since reported that the Super Series would serve as the main training ground for 2021 Cup teams, at least until they can start sailing their first new AC75 in 2019 (under the Protocol, a team's first of two AC75s cannot be splashed before March 31, 2019; the second not before February 1, 2020).
T-Hutch, as he is widely and affectionately known in sailing circles, served as tactician for Deano in the 2007 Cup in Valencia on Emirates Team New Zealand, handily winning the Louis Vuitton Cup (challenger selection series) over, tah-dah Prada, but losing to the Defender – Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI) and his Team Alinghi representing Société Nautique de Genève – in the AC Match 5-2 in the best-of-nine series. Coincidentally, Alinghi's helmsman was Floridian Ed Baird (USA).
Mr Barker sat out the 2010 Cup, the Deed of Gift match between SNG/Alinghi and Golden Gate Yacht Club's ORACLE BMW Racing, won by OBR.
Mr Barker was back at the wheel for ETNZ in the 2013 Match, in which the Kiwis, leading 8-1 in the first-to-win nine Match, suffered that soul-crushing 9-8 loss to OTUSA in what many say was one of the greatest comebacks, or chokes, in all of sport.
After the Kiwis conducted their 2013 post-mortem, Dean was excused from further participation by ETNZ CEO Grant Dalton.
But Dean was back in the 2017 Cup as CEO/Skipper of SoftBank Team Japan, put there by Russell Coutts, who was CEO of the AC Event Authority. ACEA wanted more teams, so armed with a design package and reportedly more support from OTUSA, Dean was back at the AC wheel in Bermuda.
Mr Barker and his SBTJ lost in the challenger semifinals to Sweden's Artemis Racing 4-3, this after Barker & Co. were leading 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.
(Recall, too, that it was Russell Coutts who put Dean Barker into the Cup in the first place. RC was skipper of Team New Zealand for the 2000 AC defense in Auckland which they won 5-0 over Prada. During that cycle, Russell mentored Dean and had him as backup helmsman. Coutts skippered and won the first four matches, and generously let Barker skipper the fifth and final race. Afterwards RC and the "Tight Five" were recruited by Alinghi, leaving Dean to skipper Team New Zealand in 2003, which, of course, he famously lost 5-0 to his mentor Mr Coutts. Talk about soul-crushing defeats!)
On June 15, 2017, the day after Dean's latest elimination from the Cup, Dana Johanssen wrote for the New Zealand Herald in an article entitled, "America's Cup: Is this the end for Dean Barker?":
"Dean Barker's disappointing exit from the Louis Vuitton challenger finals may mark the end of his tortured America's Cup sailing career. The Kiwi skipper's Japanese syndicate were ousted from the semifinals today by Artemis, who produced their fourth straight win to claim the series 5-3, and book a final showdown with Team New Zealand."
Ms Johanssen went on to list all the reasons why the 44yo Barker was at the end of his AC career. Since then, of course, ETNZ won the Cup, ending OTUSA's multihull hegemony and announcing that the Cup would return to high-performance monohulls, details to be further spelled out next month.
So, apparently Ms Johanssen was wrong and Deano lives – at least for another Cup tryout, if not go; this time, ironically, with the New York Yacht Club.