Revenge... maybe, but Ben's a friend
He admits it will get tense whenever they face off on the water, but Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker insists he harbours no hard feelings towards Ben Ainslie.
Kiwi sailor Barker and the four-time Olympic gold medallist are squaring off once again in the first leg of the Extreme Sailing Series here at Marina Bay, after their epic contest in last year's America's Cup.
Emirates Team New Zealand finished the first day of racing yesterday in fourth spot, one point ahead of J.P. Morgan BAR, skippered by the English knight.
Speaking to the press just before racing got underway, Barker hinted he had revenge on his mind, when he said: "I'm sure there'll be a little bit of black paint on a grey boat at some point."
Talking to The New Paper later, he elaborated: "It's a long series and there will probably be a time when our teams go head to head.
"As for racing in Singapore, there is going to be a lot of losses and wins. Sailing smart will be a hard task."
Ainslie received much of the acclaim after Team Oracle USA stunningly overturned an 8-1 deficit against Emirates Team New Zealand to win 9-8, and retain, last year's America's Cup.
Recalling the events, Barker said: "We were faster during the start, but they developed once he (Ainslie) was brought in.
"They started getting more organised, more strategic and they were simply faster than us."
"When someone is sailing faster than you, and you're not making any mistakes, there's really nothing you can do," he added.
The 41-year-old says he's not losing any sleep after last year's defeat, and insisted he was on good terms with Ainslie.
Said Barker: "We're strong rivals, but off the water we're actually good friends.
"We've had pretty good races against each other in the past, he's won some, and I've won some, and I've got a lot of respect for him."
Both Barker and Ainslie are back racing against each other in the Extreme Series for the first time since 2011.
Barker was with the Emirates Team back then, while Ainslie competed in three events with Oman Air.
Fast forward to the present day, and the battle between the two sailing stars has been renewed.
Out of eight races in the opening act yesterday, Barker's team gained top marks in the first and last races, while Ainslie's team claimed back-to-back wins.
In a nod to the talent of Ainslie, and the respect he has for the English great, Barker said: "I've had other rivalries, but he's one of the greatest competitors I've ever met."