Dean Barker keen for the Clipper Race to return to New Zealand

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Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker has spoken about his hope that the Clipper Race will return to New Zealand in the future after taking a turn on the new Clipper 70 ocean racer.

Barker joined Clipper Race Chairman and founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on board the new Clipper 70 on The Solent after arriving in the Northern Hemisphere to take part in the first AC45 event of the season in Naples, Italy, where Emirates Team New Zealand secured third place.

“Sir Robin gave a short talk about the Clipper Race before we went sailing on the new Clipper 70. I never realised how many people had participated in the previous editions of the race, or how many people were taking part in the Clipper 13-14 Race,” said Barker, who will be competing in the 34th America’s Cup taking place in San Francisco later this year.

There are ten Kiwis among the 650 crew signed up to take part in the next edition of the Clipper Race and Barker would like to see that number grow.

“It’s incredible to think over six hundred people from forty different nationalities will be taking part; it has definitely opened my eyes to this great concept and I’d love to see more New Zealanders taking part and getting involved.

“The race opens the door for those to experience ocean racing in a unique environment. As Sir Robin says, it is the yachting equivalent to climbing Mount Everest, an adventure that few people get to experience.”

Having stopped in Tauranga, New Zealand for the first time during the last edition of the Clipper Race, organisers announced earlier this year that the Clipper 13-14 Race will not be visiting New Zealand after a host port could not be found prior to the route announcement. But Barker says that he would be keen to see the race to return to his home country for the next edition.

“New Zealand has a very proud history with yachting, so I’d like to think any yachting event with the high profile and reputation that the Clipper Race has, would be stopping in New Zealand. Having been there during the last edition of the race, it’s a shame you won’t be visiting during the Clipper 13-14 Round the World Yacht Race, but maybe you’ll be able to make a stop in the Clipper 15-16 Race.”

The race will start later this summer in the UK before racing 40,000 miles around the world with a brand new fleet of twelve matched ocean racers. The Clipper 70s will feature a hybrid of Garmin and Nexus marine electronics, and Barker, who was a major shareholder in Nexus which was recently purchased by Garmin, the Official Marine Electronics Supplier of the Clipper Race, said that he was impressed with the new design.

“It’s been a while since I have done any sailing on a monohull, so it’s been quite refreshing to get back out on a boat of this size and power, I was quite surprised at the amount of effort to sail the boat well. It’s challenging and a lot of thought has gone into the setup of the boat, so it’s ideal for the type of racing the boat is designed for. I was quite surprised at how the boat performed.”