Dean Barker was switching his mindset to bigger things as Team New Zealand wrapped up the latest America's Cup regatta in San Francisco yesterday.
Team NZ finished the last fleet race a disappointing seventh to drop to fourth on the overall points table from this second regatta in a series of four ahead of next year's Louis Vuitton Cup, which starts in July. With a runner-up finish in match-racing Barker felt his crew were making headway in learning the intricacies of the tricky San Francisco Bay.
Now they swap their 45-foot catamaran for the 72-footer back in Auckland.
The crew headed from the race course to the airport yesterday, determined to get home quickly.
They want to be back sailing the AC72 on the Waitemata Harbour tomorrow if conditions allow.
"We have to make the most of the 21 days that we have left to sail the 72 before the end of January," Barker said.
"We will be cracking the whip - not wasting a minute of the time available."
Team NZ have the jump on their rivals in terms of testing the big boat. Cup holders Oracle have been out for three short trials while Swedish challengers Artemis have their AC72 still in cottonwool in San Francisco. Prada only launch theirs in Auckland on October 26.
"We look forward to seeing Luna Rossa on Auckland Harbour.
"They will need a number of good sailing days to feel comfortable with the bigger boat and in November will practise with us," Barker said.
He believes his challenge is on track despite patchy efforts in San Francisco, where Oracle used their local knowledge to again dominate with James Spithill winning both the match-racing and fleet-racing titles.
"We sailed better but we still need to better understand conditions in San Francisco," Barker said.
"We have raced two regattas on the top half of the 2013 America's Cup course area and feel more comfortable.
"Having San Francisco yachtsman Dee Smith was a massive help," Barker said.
"When we move up in May next year we still have to have some good-quality sailing on the bottom half of the longer America's Cup course."
Team NZ are shipping their AC45 home to continue practice on it with two more world series regattas to be sailed next year in Venice in April and Naples in May.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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