Dean Barker to move to BMW Oracle ??
Valencia Sailing has a strict policy of not reproducing rumors in its three years of existence. The only time we didn't follow the rules was a couple of months ago when we wrote about the imminent contract signature between Russell Coutts and BMW Oracle. It turned out it was true and the news was officially announced a month after we mentioned it. Still, it seems the contacts between the kiwi sailor and the American team were Valencia's worst kept secret.
We will deviate from our policy for a second time and report the information we have received concerning the transfer of Dean Barker, the helmsman of Emirates Team NZ in the 32nd America's Cup, to BMW Oracle. It seems, again officially unconfirmed, that the young New Zealander has signed or is about to sign an agreement with Russell Coutts, the brand new CEO of BMW Oracle, in order to become the helmsman on the American team.
It is a plausible rumor given the fact Dean Barker was in Palma last Saturday and was seen at the yacht club. Palma was of course where the Copa del Rey took place last week and Russell Coutts was calling tactics aboard the Swedish TP52 boat Artemis. It is believed Barker was not in the Spanish city for holidays but in order to have talks with Coutts. Unlike 2006, Barker hasn't taken take part in any of the Breitling Medcup races so far this year.
Even if this information turns out to be false, Larry Ellison, owner of BMW Oracle, will have no choice but to sign a very big name, and there aren't a lot of them available. The only other name we can think of is James Spithill, the young Australian helmsman of now defunct Luna Rossa.
Once again, this information has not been officially confirmed or denied by any of the involved parties. It might turn out to be that Barker's presence in Palma was only related to his interest in the TP52 circuit and his view that it can provide an excellent training tool for any America's Cup team.
Dean Barker in Palma in the last day of the Copa del Rey. Palma, 4 August 2007. Photo copyright Gilles Martin-Raget.