Barker wants more from dominant Team NZ
Team New Zealand are adamant there's plenty more to be squeezed out of their boat and crew work after they marched into the Louis Vuitton Cup final with another trouncing of Luna Rossa in San Francisco yesterday.
Dean Barker again out-hustled Chris Draper in the pre-start manoeuvres and Aotearoa never looked back, extending a 21sec advantage at the first mark to a whopping 7min 14sec win, effectively meaning a DNF for Luna Rossa once the margin went beyond five minutes.
That put the Kiwis straight into the challengers final and left the Italians wondering how they will ever close the gap after two earlier losses of more than five and two minutes.
Given their obvious speed problems, Max Sirena and his crew might also be casting a wary eye over their semifinal opponent Artemis Racing, despite the Swedish challenger's ongoing struggles to get up to race-mode.
Right now it is the Kiwis who are setting the pace with ridiculous ease and America's Cup holders Oracle can't help but notice the Kiwi dominance on the Bay.
But Barker is demanding more from his team who now have the luxury of putting an increased focus on research and development on the boat, as well as fine-tuning their already impressive crew work before the best of 13 races challenger finals start on August 7.
"In general, today there were no glaring mistakes, but we know we can keep doing better," Barker said.
"We go out there to race as hard as we can every time. It's not a case of getting in front and cruising. The level we're trying to achieve is still well above where we are now.
"There are a lot of improvements we can do to the boat with systems and the way we manage it round the course. We know we can do better."
What has been particularly pleasing for the Kiwis has been their work in the pre-start. It's an area they will need to maximise if, as expected, they get through to meet Oracle who are skippered by the aggressive Jimmy Spithill.
The Kiwis were late across the line against Luna Rossa yesterday but that didn't matter because they were still about four boat-lengths in front of the Italians after rolling over the top of them.
"We had a nice entry and they were a little late, so we ended up close on their stern after the jibe," Barker said.
"It's a strong position. We don't care how late we are, just as long as we're pushing them back. We probably could've gone harder at the line a bit earlier, but we wanted to make sure we put them in a tough spot."
Luna Rossa's troubles started earlier in the day when their AC72 was launched in very low tide. The port side rudder hit the bottom and had to be removed and repaired before the team left the dock.
That will bring some focus on to the maintenance of the team bases area that was never developed as much as was originally planned because of the small number of entries in this 34th edition of the famous regatta.
Luna Rossa weren't looking for excuses though.
"We dropped the rudder out, brought it to shore and the boatbuilders tickled it up. Then the divers stuck it back in before we left the dock," Luna Rossa grinder Scott Giles explained.
"It's never ideal, but what it harmed was our preparation time. The boat was 100 per cent at start time."
"We've got an awful lot to work on ... clearly we've got a lot to do to get to where we need to be. We can't hide from the fact that, at the moment, the Kiwis are the class act."