America's Cup: Dean Barker blasts Team New Zealand for looking to take Cup to UK

Veteran Americas Cup sailor Dean Barker has hit out at Team New Zealand over suggestions that they plan to take the Auld Mug to the UK next year for a special challenge against Team UK.
There are rumours swirling that the Americas Cup could be going back to its roots with a one-off challenge between Team New Zealand and Team UK if the Kiwis are successful with their current defence.

Team New Zealand sit at match point against Luna Rossa at Auckland 2021, needing just one win to retain the Auld Mug.

A Kiwi victory is likely to see Team UK replace the Italians as challenger of record after Team New Zealands partnership with Luna Rossa soured so badly during this cycle.

STUFF
Stuff's Todd Niall and Duncan Johnstone are joined by sailor Carl Whiting after Team NZ took the America's Cup to match point.

But speaking on TVNZ on Wednesday, Barker, who retained the Americas Cup with Team New Zealand in 2000, but was helmsman when they lost it three years later and failed win it back in 2007 and 2013, was critical of his former team.

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Team New Zealand was brought to fruition to bring the Americas Cup to New Zealand.

So 1995, with Peter (Blake), Brad (Butterworth), Russell (Coutts), Murray (Jones) was there, Barker said.

The whole intent of that campaign was to bring the Americas Cup to New Zealand and they did that successfully, defended it here in 2000.

We lost it in 2003 and ever since it was about trying to bring it back. The guys did an amazing job in 2017 to bring it back to New Zealand, hopefully theyll go on to defend this time.

But the Americas Cup cant leave New Zealand with New Zealand taking it away, it just doesnt make any sense whatsoever.

A partnership with Team UK would bring their billionaire backer, INEOS boss Sir Jim Ratcliffe into play, and a radical concept could be part of any deal, according to NewstalkZB.

The waterfront talk is of a special challenge, as early as next year with Team New Zealand taking the Auld Mug to Britain to defend it in an around the Isle of Wight race to replicate the first Americas Cup battle in 1851 that sent sports oldest trophy off to the United States.

"There's some bizarre stuff going on. The ball's always bouncing in the America's Cup. They are talking about INEOS, I guess would be funding the whole thing. Both teams would go to the Isle of Wight and do an America's Cup like it was 200 years ago," former Team New Zealand star and Americas Cup hall of famer Brad Butterworth told NewstalkZB.


Butterworth has been employed as a consultant with Luna Rossa around the challenger of record organisation in Auckland, a controversial move given his strained standing with the current Team New Zealand management.

Team New Zealand have refused to answer any speculation about the Cups immediate future until the current defence is complete.

Both Team New Zealand and the Americas Cup Event Ltd refused to comment on the matter when approached by Stuff on Wednesday.

Special deed of gift challenges have occurred previously, but only after protracted court battles when New Zealand and United States syndicate Oracle won the rights for challenges in 1988 and 2010 respectively.

A one-off challenge in Britain could help with the immediate financial security of Team New Zealand which is a priority.

Ricky Wilson/Stuff
The owner of team sponsor INEOS, Sir Jim Ratcliffe congratulates Sir Ben Ainslie after the team won through to the Prada Cup final

The champion syndicate has been open about sounding out international interest for staging the 2024 Americas Cup offshore and would not rule that out if the numbers stacked up.

Their preference is to continue to hold it in Auckland if it is financially viable, given the infrastructure in place and the passion for the event here.

The city and New Zealand government will be given three months to come up with a proposal if Team New Zealand do beat Luna Rossa.

That would then be weighed up against any international offers that were due to be tabled by the end of last month.

There have been indications that Luna Rossa could bring back Swiss syndicate Alinghi as their challenger of record if they beat Team New Zealand.

There are suggestions Alinghi have been eyeing Team New Zealands first AC75 as a platform to launch the rebuild of their Cup ambitions.

Alinghi won the Americas Cup off Team New Zealand in 2003 after swooping on Butterworth, Sir Russell Coutts and the core of the Kiwi crew that had won in 1995 and 2000.

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