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29 January 2006, 08:30 am
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Auckland Match Racing Cup 2006
Auckland, New Zealand

New Zealand skipper Dean BARKER today fulfilled a long-held ambition to win New Zealand's premier match racing title by taking out the ISAF Grade 1 Auckland Match Racing Cup in a convincing 3-0 whitewash over his opponent and one-time sparring partner Bertrand PACÉ (FRA).
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'It is great to finally win this event,' said an elated Barker, who paid tribute to his Emirates Team New Zealand crew of Terry HUTCHINSON, Don COWIE, Jared HENDERSON and James DAGG.

Organisers are also celebrating the success of the five-day inaugural event, which replaces the former Steinlager-Line 7 regattas.

Race organizer Dave STEWART, general manager of Springs Promotions, said the Auckland Match Racing Cup had received massive domestic and international interest and support.

'The fantastic thing about this event is that it's close to the shore and is easily accessible. People were lining the marine parade by the Harbour Bridge to watch the final race today and that's what it's all about - getting people interested and involved.

'As an international event, the Auckland Match Racing Cup has a very bright future.'

David CHARLESWORTH, Commodore of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, acknowledged the support of Auckland City and Springs Promotions and added, 'We are so pleased from the squadron standpoint to have such a strong lineup of teams competing here and I would like to thank the ten teams from six nations that came here to compete.'

Victory At Last

As BARKER received the magnificent Auckland Match Racing Cup trophy in the Viaduct Harbour, BARKER acknowledged the applause of the enthusiastic crowds, 'I have tried several times and been runner-up twice, so it is nice to win at last.'

BARKER added that after an absence of four years it was great to have a grade one international match race regatta back in Auckland, 'Sailing on our home waters and representing our home yacht club, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, makes the win even better,' he said.

Racing in the final and petite final of the Auckland Match Racing Cup took place in a shifty north-easterly breeze today. The format for the final was a best-of-five series and PACÉ got off to a bad start by being on the receiving end of four penalties in the first two races, allowing BARKER to claim easy victories.

In their third match, however, it was much tighter and PACÉ and his BMW Oracle Racing crew of Rod DAWSON, Sean CLARKSON, Zach HURST and Brad WEBB sailed much closer to their true form.

Fighting Spirit Proves Vital

BARKER is one of the few skippers who has managed to secure come-from-behind victories throughout this regatta and was forced to do it again today in the third match against PACÉ, who won the start and led for most of the way up the first windward leg. However, coming into the turning mark, BARKER managed to edge into the lead, crossed ahead of PACÉ on port tack and led around the remainder of the track to secure the title.

PACÉ was philosophical about the outcome. 'I made a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes today,' he said of his crop of penalties. 'That is just part of the game.'

However, his recent record in this event is admirable. In its previous form, he won the 2000 and 2001 regattas and was a finalist in its revived format as the Auckland Match Racing Cup. On each of those occasions he sailed for different America's Cup teams, the French in 2000, Team New Zealand in 2001 and BMW Oracle Racing in 2006.

BMW Oracle Racing had two podium finishes in this regatta with skipper Chris DICKSON (NZL) defeating Auckland skipper Cameron APPLETON 2-0 in the petite final to secure third place.

'This was a good performance in a difficult regatta,' DICKSON said. 'It is a great way to start the 2006 season.'

Auckland Match Racing Cup Final Standings

1. Dean BARKER (NZL)
2. Bertrand PACÉ (FRA)
3. Chris DICKSON (NZL)
4. Cameron APPLETON (NZL)
6. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA)
8. Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE)
9. Staffan LINDBERG (FIN)
10. Sebastian COL (FRA)

For a complete list of all the news from the Auckland Match Racing Cup CLICK HERE.

Esmee Dunlop (As Amended by ISAF), Image: Dean BARKER © Ivor Wilkins/Offshore Images
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