Martin Devlin: I'm not going to throw Dean Barker under the bus

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 18 Jan 2021, 3:27PM

Martin Devlin: I'm not going to throw Dean Barker under the bus

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 18 Jan 2021, 3:27PM

I'm going in to bat for Dean Barker. Who doesn't feel absolutely gutted for the bloke after yet another on water disaster yesterday capsizing America Magic when the race was won?

And this just a day after blowing two races on Saturday, shifty winds as much to blame as Barker being so convincingly beaten at both starts.

The guy is a brilliant sailor, let's not make any bones about that. But his luck when it comes to the America's Cup has only gone from bad to worse.

When Dean was given the helm of NZL60 for the final and victorious race of the 2000 defence the America's Cup was his oyster. Anointed to be the new face of Team NZ his future, it seemed, as solid as the base of the trophy itself.

And then came 2003. The broken mast, the blue buckets bailing the water out, the 5-0 defeat as embarrassing as it was so utterly comprehensive. The pictures of Barker head down shoulders slumped over the helm burned into the Kiwi sporting psyche, the camera perfectly capturing the misery, hopelessness and frustration of defeat.

In Valencia four years later he was skipper again and although we lost it seemed more like bad luck than anything specific he did.

And then San Francisco and losing that unassailable 8-1 lead. Quite possibly the worst sporting choke in our country's history. But again, just because he skippers the boat does that also mean that loss was his fault?

Someone suggested to me yesterday that what Dean needs is his own Stephen Donald moment - something that could  quickly and permanently change this perception that right now says Dean means defeat, Barker stands for botch-up.

How much of yesterday's capsize catastrophe was down to him is a debate for far more knowledgeable brains than this one. My feelings on this are coming straight from the heart and based on nothing but the fact I like the bloke, I believe he IS damn good at what he does and I wish that if there is a thing called luck in high level sport then he gets some - and soon.

Dean Barker is one of us and I, for one, am not about to throw him under the bus.