Team New Zealand (TNZ) boss Grant Dalton was demanding a podium finish at the latest America's Cup World Series regatta in San Francisco and Dean Barker's crew delivered the first leg of the quinella yesterday.
TNZ finished second in the match-racing championship and two good efforts in fleet racing - a first and a fourth - lifted them to third on the points table in that department amongst the 11 crews.
The final fleet race - heavily weighted on the points system - will be raced today and Barker's boys have a bit of momentum heading into that.
Only a poor start cost them the match racing title. After beating Sweden's Artemis Racing by 18s in their semifinal yesterday they lost by the same margin to Oracle's James Spithill in the final.
Spithill's aggressive tactics on the start line set up his victory on home waters.
With less than 10 seconds to the start, Spithill dove to leeward of Barker and luffed the Kiwis so hard that Barker wound up tacking to port to avoid a penalty. Spithill sped on to the racecourse as Barker was circling around to start and led by 31 seconds at the first reach mark.
"With about 10 seconds to go we didn't do a good job protecting our position, and that was it," said Barker.
"There's always an opportunity to get back into it in this style of racing and the guys ground away at it, but we ran out of runway to do anything."
It was a strong comeback by Spithill who had earlier capsized in spectacular fashion in the opening fleet race.
Barker took out that race and the subsequent fourth lifted New Zealand two places on the points table.
British skipper Ben Ainslie continued his impressive introduction to the 45-foot catamarans, claiming a fourth and a first yesterday to stay top of the table on 63 points. Artemis Racing White are second on 52 with Barker next on 47 and looking to get back on the podium today.
America's Cup World Series, San Francisco
Fleet Racing Championship (after 6 of 7 races)
1. J.P. Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie) 1-3-1-2-4-1 - 63 points
2. Artemis Racing - White (Terry Hutchinson) 10-2-2-1-3-3 - 52
3. Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker) 2-8-5-6-1-4 - 47
4. Oracle Team USA (Jimmy Spithill) 8-1-6-5-DNF-2 - 39
5. Artemis Racing - Red (Nathan Outteridge) 4-4-4-4-9-8 - 39
6. Energy Team (Loick Peyron) 6-7-7-3-6-7 - 36
7. Team Korea (Peter Burling) 5-9-10-8-2-5 - 33
8. Oracle Team USA (Russell Coutts) 3-5-8-7-8-10 - 31
9. Luna Rossa Piranha (Chris Draper) 9-6-3-10-10-6 - 28
10. China Team (Phil Robertson) 7-10-11-9-5-11 - 19
11. Luna Rossa Swordfish (Iker Martinez) 11-11-9-11-7-9 - 14
Match Racing Championship
1. Oracle (Spithill), 2. Emirates Team New Zealand, 3. Artemis Racing - White, 4. Artemis Racing - Red, 5. Orackle (Coutts), 6. Energy Team, 7. J.P. Morgan BAR, 8. Team Korea, 9. China Team, 10. Luna Rossa Piranha, 11. Luna Rossa Swordfish
- © Fairfax NZ News
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