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Barker to face Coutts in semi of America's Cup World Series    
Fri, 16 Sep 2011

Dean Barker faces off against his former team mate Russell Coutts in the match race semi-final of the America's Cup World Series regatta being sailed in Plymouth, England.

Emirates Team New Zealand was seeded second and Oracle 5 third after six fleet races on Wednesday and Thursday.

With two second placing and a fourth on Thursday, Barker was on 50 points at day’s end, six adrift of a consistent Artemis with two firsts and a second.

First, second and third seeds go straight through to the match racing semis while the lower seeds sail a series of sudden-death races.

Friday and Saturday sees the end of match racing and the final fleet race – a winner-takes-all race to find the Plymouth fleet racing champion - takes place on Sunday.

Today the breeze was much lighter at Plymouth with a shifty 6-12 knots from the south. Once again some of the les-fancied teams showed that there are no certainties on the ACWS circuit.

China Team pulled off a well-deserved third place in the third match of the day while the winner of the 34th America’s Cup James Spithill was eighth. His boss Russell Coutts won the race comfortably after a series of mid-fleet finishes.

A dramatic fighting finish by Emirates Team New Zealand almost snatched the win in the first fleet race sailed on Thursday. Artemis took the early lead and defended well, as a match race developed for first and second places.

Approaching the last mark, Emirates Team New Zealand came in at speed, closing quickly. Artemis, slower, dropped its gennaker as it rounded the mark while Barker held on to his for the short reach to the finish line. With greater speed, Barker closed right up and ran out of race course just before he could overtake. Artemis’ delta was a mere three seconds.

The result of race two was a repeat of the first. Artemis first , Emirates Team New Zealand second.

Barker, Winston Macfarlane, Glenn Ashby, James Dagg and Ray Davies showed again how they can recover from a seemingly impossible position. They rounded the first mark in fourth place, the second mark in sixth.

By leg 6, only Oracle 4 and Artemis were ahead. Barker gybed inside Oracle and rolled over them as they approached the mark. Then with Spithill chasing hard, Barker held on to cross the finish line second.

Just as the forecasters said, the wind started to drop away as the start of the third and final race of the day approached.

Emirates Team New Zealand led from the start, led around the first two marks and then fell victim to a wind shift, slipping back in the fleet to finish fourth behind Oracle 5, China and Artemis.

by Warren Douglas

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