A promising young Auckland dinghy sailor, Dean Barker first sailed with Team New Zealand in 1995, but opted for an Olympic Finn campaign rather than go to San Diego. Barker was back with the team for the successful defence in 2000, taking the helm for the final race win, and was skipper of the team for 2003. In the 2007 challenge, he led the sailing team to victory in the Louis Vuitton Cup to face Alinghi for the America’s Cup, hailed as the most thrilling match for many years.
In his last year racing monohulls - 2010 - Barker won three Louis Vuitton Trophy events and his second Audi MedCup championships. He then launched himself the new America's Cup era of multihull sailing with much success.
Only four nations have held the America's Cup in 150 years and New Zealand is one of them. When the Kiwis won the prized trophy in San Diego in 1995 they became the first team from a country outside the United States to successfully win and then defend the America's Cup.
Dean made America's Cup history when he helmed NZL60 to victory in the final race of Team New Zealand's 5-0 'blackwash' over challenger Prada on Thursday 2 March 2000. At 26 he was the youngest sailor ever to skipper an America's Cup yacht to victory - and he had never been involved with an America's Cup campaign previously.
Since then, New Zealand has continued to dominate not just this event but international yachting in general. Kiwis can be found in every competing team in San Francisco and the race boats are powered by New Zealand technology and innovation.
Dean began his sailing career at 10 years of age and his first solo sail - in an Optimist - ended in disaster when he got stuck in the middle of Lake Pupuke and had to be rescued.
He is a popular speaker, not only because of his high profile, but also because he speaks from the heart and gives an open, honest interpretation of his sailing career. Passionate about his sport and his country, Dean says that Kiwis tend to excel at any sport that involves water - rowing, kayaking, kite surfing, paddle boarding, triathlon. "It's hard to grow up in New Zealand and not be attracted to the water, when you are never more than an hour's drive from the sea or a lake". "Geographically, New Zealand's position on the globe doesn’t help us to get international competition, but that only makes us hungrier when we get the opportunity to travel the world to compete".
A passionate Kiwi, Dean says you would be hard-pressed to find another country in the world where a nation gets so behind their sporting teams and athletes.
"There is a genuine passion and a kind of ownership. Look at the All Blacks and the Breakers basketball team, and our Olympic athletes - there is a motivation to do well when you know you have a nation supporting you. When Team New Zealand won the America's Cup in 1995, New Zealanders were so elated. You compete in the first instance for your own reasons and for your team, but it gives you a lot of pride to know you have New Zealand behind you."
Dean is a popular speaker, not only because of his high profile, but also because he speaks from the heart and gives an open, honest interpretation of his sailing career.
I have experienced it, and it’s not easy when you’re going into the America’s Cup cold. But I have tremendous respect for his ability. ... keep reading Russell Coutts