New match racing teamOMEGA Match Racing Team introduced in Bermuda
At a press breakfast, prestige Swiss watch manufacturer OMEGA, the official timekeeper of the Investors Guaranty Presentation of the King Edward VII Gold Cup, proudly presented its new match racing team. Skippered by OMEGA ambassador Dean Barker, the OMEGA Match Racing Team made its debut this week in Bermuda and will be competing at future Swedish Match Tour events.
The King Edward VII Gold Cup is named after the British sovereign who presented a trophy for a race at a Tri-Centenary Regatta at Jamestown, Virginia in 1907 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the first English settlement in America. The cup was presented to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in 1937 by New York sailor Sherman Hoyt, who won it in 1911.
This year, 24 world-class teams competed for the cup, including America's Cup skippers Russell Coutts (Team Alinghi), Dennis Conner (Team Dennis Conner), Dean Barker (Team New Zealand), Peter Holmberg (Oracle BMW Racing) and Peter Gilmour (OneWorld). This match racing event using identically matched and supplied racing yachts.
With the presence of many of the world's top sailors, the King Edward VII Gold Cup provides an excellent opportunity for the official timekeeper to present the OMEGA Match Racing Team. Mr Patrick Buteux, Special Events Manager for OMEGA, spoke of the brand's excitement at making this announcement: "We are very pleased to announce the OMEGA Match Racing Team here at the King Edward VII Gold Cup. We started our involvement with this event in 1990 and it makes perfect sense to present them here".
Explaining OMEGA's decision to support Barker's efforts on the Swedish Match Tour, Buteux said, "We felt that felt that we could help the Swedish Match Tour by having as many teams as possible taking part and we also wanted to support our brand ambassador Dean by enabling him to compete as often as he can on the Swedish Tour with his chosen team". OMEGA will support the team by paying for travel costs to the Swedish Match Tour events. Buteux summarised, "This arrangement is good for the sport, good for Dean and good for Team New Zealand".
Indeed, the intitiative to set up the OMEGA Match Racing Team is further confirmation of OMEGA's confidence in Team New Zealand as the team consists for the most part of members of the TNZ crew. Dean Barker was clearly delighted too, "It's great for us because Team New Zealand is in a rebuilding stage and it's a fantastic opportunity for us to get back on the Swedish Match Tour and hopefully back to the level we were at in the past".
In his outstanding sailing career, Barker has won four events on the Swedish Match Tour, making him second only to Sweden's Magnus Holmberg (six) and tied with Denmark's Jesper Radich. Barker was also second overall on the inaugural Swedish Match Tour, tied for fifth on the Swedish Match Tour 2000/2001 and finished sixth on the Swedish Match Tour 2001/2002. Competing with Barker this week in the first incarnation of the OMEGA Match Racing Team were long-time Team New Zealand mates James Dagg and Tony Rae, as well as British Olympic laser gold medallist, Ben Ainslie.