© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2020

Dean Barker speaks out about the challenges teams will face for the 2021 America's Cup

Emma Olsen
America's Cup
Emirates Team NZ racing Artemis in the America's Cup challenger final series   Flickr

Borders will be a problem when relocating all team members in time for the 2021 America's Cup

Dean Barker, former Emirates Team New Zealand skipper, believes all four teams in the 2021 America's Cup will find it challenging having to relocate all their members by March next year.

Barker, who is currently the helmsman for New York Yacht Club American Magic, said as a team made up Americans, Europeans, and a number of NZ and Australians, the timing to sort everyone out would be a challenge.

"Being able to set up a base in NZ with all team members and get operational with all the uncertainties surrounding immigration and social distancing will be the biggest issue.

"We are sitting and waiting to see how things develop over the next few months. While we are seeing some signs of the spread slowing in some of the harder-hit areas, it would seem we may be in for a slow exit from the restrictions in place for borders and social distancing."

It was definitely a nervous time, said Barker.

"Having watched how quickly things deteriorated in Europe, and being based here in the US and seeing how we are following all the same trends but a couple of weeks behind, it is really hard to know how bad things will ultimately be here."

Just like the other three teams, ETNZ is being forced to sit idle during COVID-19 and wait for the restrictions to ease before they can resume a normal training programme.

Barker will be steering the NYYC American Magic Team in the Challenger Selection Series and if all goes well, in the America's Cup.

The team is new for him and has taken some time to get up and running. 

"With any new group, it takes time to build up the key relationships and define the organisational structure so that we can function well. The sailing group has a lot of people who I have not sailed with before, but it has been great to get to know the new guys and develop as a sailing operation."

Barker's team plan is to go to a winter training base in Pensacola, Florida, and then send equipment to NZ once border restrictions are relaxed and they know they will be able to get all their team over. 

"In the meantime, there are plenty of projects that we will continue within both design and production so that we are ready to get back on the water when the time comes."