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17 April 2005, 07:15 am
Barker Beats Coutts For 2nd Congressional Cup Title
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Congressional Cup 2005
Long Beach, California, USA

The stuff of folk tales became real life Saturday when Dean BARKER, the bruised and humbled former apprentice, lived to defeat his mentor, Russell COUTTS, for victory in the 41st Congressional Cup, presented by Acura
Coutts said the better man won. 'We had a chance to win, but we never really deserved to win,' said Coutts, who sailed with Jes GRAM-HANSEN and his Danish crew. 'It's not a bad situation. They sailed great all week. They were a little sharper than us.'

That, from the man who had eliminated Chris DICKSON, CEO and skipper for BMW Oracle Racing's America's Cup team, 2-1, in the semifinals while Barker was coming from behind to oust France's Mathieu RICHARD by the same score.

When Dickson beat Richard, 2-1, for third place, it meant that Kiwis would finish 1-2-3, but the top two remained to be settled in a match rife with human elements.

Barker succeeded Coutts as skipper for Team New Zealand (now Emirates TNZ) when Coutts switched to Switzerland's Alinghi in 2003, then gave his former understudy a 5-0 whipping in the title match. But this success was less revenge than a coming of age as a key player at Valencia in 2007 - an event Coutts will miss after his separation from Alinghi.

Now Barker again has donned the Crimson Blazer he first wore when he won the Congressional Cup in 2000 - the year Coutts let him drive the clinching race against Prada.

'It was tough racing in the semifinals and finals,' Barker said. 'I was very impressed with the way Mathieu RICHARD sailed. He showed why he's ranked number four [in the world by the International Sailing Federation].'

It was clear that the bonds remain strong between Barker and Coutts as they sat next to each other at the evening press conferences, leaning together to exchange personal thoughts.

As for his first encounter with Coutts since that forgettable fiasco on the Hauraki Gulf five years ago, Barker said, 'The Alinghi team was much better prepared, but it's always nice to meet Russell because he's such a good competitor. It's a healthy relationship. In the America's Cup it's never one individual against another, but team against team.'

On the water they were intense adversaries. As the sun dipped late in the afternoon, spectators jammed onto Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier watched at close quarters as the pair swapped straightforward wins in their first two matches, Barker winning by 33 seconds, then Coutts by 17.

But with the wind dying from a peak of 9 knots to less than 5 near the shore, principal race office Mike VAN DYKE was forced to make the difficult call of moving the windward-leeward race course a half-mile out, far from view of the pier but into better wind for a fairer final race.

Both went left from the starting line, and Barker seized a controlling windward advantage as they tacked at the port layline to lead by 6, 10 and 11 seconds at the marks and 19 at the finish.

On the final run to the finish a 120-degree wind shift to the from southwest to east caught both teams by surprise and revived a bitter memory for Barker's tactician, Terry HUTCHINSON, who lost the lead and the Congressional Cup to Ed BAIRD when the wind died on him on the last leg of the last race.

Hutchinson said, 'About 30 seconds before it happened I said, 'I think the breeze is going hard left.' '

When it did, down came the spinnakers, up went the jibs and all Coutts could do was to follow Barker on a straight reach to the finish.

Hutchinson won the Congressional Cup as skipper in 1992 and as tactician for Ken READ in 2003. Now a teammate of Barker's, he said, 'It's a little redemption from last year, but we still have a lot of hard work to do.'

For another American on the crew, pitman Moose MCCLINTOCK, it was his fifth victory in the event with four different skippers. Other crew members were main trimmer Skip BAXTER, headsail trimmer James DAGG and bowman Jeremy LOMAS.



Chris Dickson, Golden Gate YC, San Francisco, d. Russell Coutts, Aarhus Sejlklub, Denmark, 3 minutes 0 seconds; Coutts d. Dickson, 0:26; Coutts d. Dickson, 0:33 (Coutts wins, 2-1).

Mathieu Richard, APCC-Voile Sportive, France, d. Dean Barker, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, 0:18; Barker d. Richard, 0:54; Barker d. Richard, 1:10 (Barker wins, 2-1).

Championship Final

Barker d. Coutts, 0:33; Coutts d. Barker, 0:17; Barker d. Coutts, 0:19 (Barker wins, 2-1; Barker $10,000, Coutts $5,700).

Third Place

Dickson d. Richard, 0:10; Richard d. Dickson, 0:08; Dickson d. Richard, 0:09 (Dickson wins 2-1; Dickson $4,800, Richard, $4,400).

Fifth Place

Staffan Lindberg, Aaland Islands YC, Finland ($3,800), d. Chris Law, Royal Cape YC, South Africa ($3,000), 0:44;

Seventh Place

Philippe Presti, Union Nationale pour la Course au Large, France ($2,700), d. Lars Nordbjerg, Skovshoved Sejlklub, Denmark ($2,300), 0:35;

Ninth Place

Chris Larson, Annapolis YC ($1,900), d. Scott Dickson, Long Beach YC ($1,500), 0:39.

Final Round Robin Standings: 1. Tie between Barker and C. Dickson, 14-4; 3. Coutts, 12-6; 4. Richard, 11-7; 5. tie between Lindberg and Law, 9-9; 7. Nordbjerg, 7-11; 8. Presti, 6-12; 9. S. Dickson, 5-13; 10. Larson, 3-15.

Rich Roberts. Image: Barker Holds Cup Aloft, © Event Media
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