Barker and PACÉ both won their semi-final matches in straight sets, coming away with 3-0 victories. But, in both cases the scoreline did not reflect how tough the contests were.
Barker was up against young Aucklander Cameron APPLETON, who until recently sailed with the French K-Challenge team, although he was with Team New Zealand in 2000 and in 2003. To get through to the final, PACÉ had his boss to deal with, veteran New Zealand sailor and BMW Oracle Racing skipper, Chris DICKSON.
'We may have won by 3-0, but it was a lot harder than it looks from that result,' said PACÉ. 'It is always very tough sailing against Chris.'
During this regatta, there have been few come-from-behind wins, but BARKER had to achieve two today to overcome APPLETON. To make matters even more challenging, in the final race BARKER had to overtake not once but twice to clinch the victory.
|PACÉ sees of DICKSON
© Ivor Wilkins/Offshore Images
In the third and final match, BARKER trailed APPLETON up the first leg, but managed to establish a windward overlap downwind and overtook. However, coming into the leeward mark rounding, the umpires penalised BARKER for a port-starboard infringement.
Barker completed his penalty turn immediately and gave chase on the second upwind leg. BARKER and his crew caught APPLETON at the windward mark and used the starboard right-of-way advantage to force him into a huge, speed-robbing alteration of course, which cost him the lead and ultimately the match.
Disappointed to be out of the final, APPLETON was philosophical about the outcome. He had only just put together a crew for this Grade One international event, while he described BARKER's Emirates Team New Zealand crew as a 'well oiled machine'. Said APPLETON: 'My main goal was to make the semi-finals.'
'Racing against Chris is always exciting,' he said. 'He is always a hard competitor.'
BARKER predicts a fiery encounter tomorrow against Bertrand PACÉ. The French former match racing world champion was BARKER's sparring partner in the 2003 America's Cup defence and the two have sailed hundreds of duels against each other.
'Bertrand can be very unpredictable,' said BARKER. 'That makes racing against him very enjoyable. The ability to respond to that will be the test in the final.'
'I have a long history with Dean. It will be very tough. We were very closely matched before. I hope there will be lots of close racing with plenty of lead changes.'
The rest of the fleet sailed each other today as well to decide fifth - tenth places.
Racing resumes tomorrow at 1000. The best vantage point is at the Harbour Bridge-end of the Westhaven Marina where there is a public grandstand, free carparking and food and drink available.
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