Team New Zealand beats Oracle

PLYMOUTH, England -- Dean Barker skippered Emirates Team New Zealand to victory over former teammate Russell Coutts aboard San Francisco-based Oracle Racing to reach the finals of the match racing championships in the second stop of the America's Cup World Series on Friday.

After Coutts won the first race, Barker came back to win the final two races in the best-of-three semifinal. Barker was Coutts' understudy in the 2000 America's Cup. Coutts is a four-time America's Cup winner.

"We made it hard," Barker said. "Those guys are pretty quick and start the boat well, and it was pretty close in all three races. But we're a lot happier with the way we finished off the last race."

Coutts and crew bounced back strongly to win the first race despite being saddled with two penalties in the pre-start, one for crossing outside of the course boundary and another for a collision with Dean Barker's boat.

"Dean said it was a love tap. Well, I can tell you it wasn't a love tap," Coutts said. "We lost a bit of control. The wing probably shifted and backed the jib. We flopped onto port (tack) and we were going to hit them.

"We had our moments; just didn't put it together," Coutts said. "We made some key decisions that were wrong. Team New Zealand sailed well and deserved the win, credit to them."

Team Korea will face Sweden's Artemis Racing in the other semifinal on Saturday, with the winner moving on to face Team New Zealand for the championship.

Team Korea and its British skipper, Chris Draper, beat Oracle Racing's other crew, led by America's Cup-winning skipper Jimmy Spithill, during Friday's racing. Team Korea has now beaten both Oracle Racing crews. It beat Coutts during the inaugural ACWS last month in Portugal.

"I've nothing against Oracle," Draper said. "We are trying to improve our match racing skill. The changing format has given us some more opportunity. Our experience in match racing is limited but we have some smart guys on board."

Spithill's 45-foot catamaran was done in by both the Koreans and a faulty jib clutch.

"Certainly Korea has caused some problems to Oracle Racing but full credit to those guys," Spithill said. "They hung in there. We had a few issues with the gear and we made a tactical error on the run. We got what we deserved."