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Sunday, February 26, 2017
New Zealand's Readiness Questioned by Barker

Former skipper Dean Barker has questioned Team New Zealand's readiness for the America's Cup.

Barker is now CEO and skipper of rival syndicate Team Japan and has voiced some thoughts on overall preparations as they launched their new cup catamaran in Bermuda .

Qualifying racing starts in Bermuda in late May.

Team New Zealand are leaving their run to Bermuda late, deciding to do the bulk of their testing and training in Auckland. They want to keep away from prying eyes, but the trade-off is their ability to acclimatise to the Cup courses on the Great Sound.

Barker, dumped by the Kiwis in the wake of the 2013 Cup defeat in San Francisco, believes Team New Zealand, Team France and Britain's Ben Ainslie Racing could pay a price for failing to get used to local conditions in Bermuda.

Team New Zealand have only raced one two-day regatta in Bermuda since the British territory was controversially chosen by Cup holders Oracle team USA as the venue for the 35th edition of the regatta.

Oracle, Team Japan and Sweden's Artemis Racing, have had long-term bases in Bermuda.

Barker feels their extensive time on the Cup courses has been invaluable.

"It certainly helps to have a year of sailing in Bermuda under us and at the Cup it'll feel like we're sailing at home," Barker said as Hikara which translates to "Flash of Light" was launched.

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"We'll have a much better understanding of what to expect and the three teams who were based here will hopefully have an advantage over the other three."

Team Japan's new 50-foot foiling catamaran features traditional standing arm-powered grinding stations as opposed to Team New Zealand's pedal-powered approach that has four cycling stations in each hull.

Team France are the only syndicate yet to launch.
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