DEAN BARKER: LOOKING BACK AT 35TH AMERICA'S CUP

Bermuda (BDA) - 35th America's Cup Bermuda 2017 - America's Cup Match Presented by Louis Vuitton - Emirates Team New Zealand, Emirates, New Zealand Prize Giving
© Dennis Martins

It’s been a little more than a week since the last race was sailed in AC35 and our congratulations go to Emirates Team New Zealand who impressively defeated Oracle Team USA in the finals. 

The Softbank Team Japan journey has been an incredibly enjoyable and challenging experience. Sitting here in Bermuda with Fuku in May of 2015, we had little more than a couple of notebooks and plenty of ambition. Now, two years on, I am immensely proud of everything we have achieved.

The final result for Softbank Team Japan was disappointing. Our shore crew prepared an excellent boat but in the end, we just made too many mistakes on the racecourse at critical times and, at this level of competition, those mistakes were costly. In our semi-final with Artemis Racing, we certainly had opportunities to win more races, but against a strong competitor like they are, you need to execute every detail perfectly.

As always, people are the key to have any chance of success. The people we managed to assemble in a relatively short space of time are due the credit for what SoftBank Team Japan accomplished. Their culture, attitude, and single-minded determination made me very proud to be a part of this group.

In addition, the way that the Japanese people have embraced this team has been remarkable. Hosting America’s Cup racing in Asia for the first time during the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event in Fukuoka was a highlight of the campaign. The thousands of messages from new fans over the past two years, the impressive pickup by the Japanese media, and certainly the generous support we received from SoftBank and our sponsors all helped to reignite Japan’s passion for the America’s Cup.

A big “thank you” also goes to the people of Bermuda who have embraced and supported SoftBank Team Japan over these past two years. Being based here with our families has been one of life’s great experiences and we’re proud to call this island our home.

Reflecting back on the racing, particularly the racing between Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA, I cannot help but be impressed with the domination that ETNZ showed. They were truly a class above the rest, and the radically different design and innovation that the team had taken ended up far superior to the solutions the other teams had found.

Having been a part of Team New Zealand for a large part of my career, it is with mixed emotions that I watch the team take the America’s Cup back to New Zealand. It will be amazing to have the Americas Cup back on New Zealand waters, and it will be a great boost to the New Zealand marine industry as a whole. Though it is tough to not be a part of the successful campaign, I still have many friends on the team whom I am proud to see win the prize they’ve fought so hard for – my sincere congratulations on a job well done.

The past two years establishing and leading SoftBank Team Japan have been some of the most rewarding of my career and an immense feeling of pride overshadows the results. Having had the opportunity to put together a new team from scratch, to learn the challenges faced with running a team, and to understand how to balance the sailing duties with the management of a team has been an extremely rewarding process. I have no regrets.

As for the next America’s Cup, at Softbank Team Japan we now wait to learn what direction AC36 will take. Beyond knowing the official challenger of record, Circolo della Vela Sicilia, there are only rumors at the moment surrounding the class of yacht, location, format, race dates, and whether or not there will be some form of a global series to keep sponsors engaged. It will be very interesting to see how the new protocol is shaped by it’s new trustees and I very much hope that we will get the opportunity to build on the foundation that we created here in Bermuda in whatever form that may be.