America's Cup 2021: American Magic's Dean Barker faces litmus test on day two of Prada Cup

He may have more mileage around the waters of the Waitemata Harbour than any of his rival skippers, but Kiwi Dean Barker is a man under pressure on day two of the Prada Cup.

Barker's American Magic began the America's Cup challenger series as hot favourites to challenge Emirates Team New Zealand in March.

But the former Team NZ skipper was outgunned and outclassed by INEOS Team UK, steered by four-time Olympic champion Sir Ben Ainslie

The much-maligned Britannia showed serious speed, both up and downwind, and Ainslie's sailing nous, combined with the expertise of tactician Giles Scott proved too much for the American challenge on Friday. 

Barker now heads into Saturday's facing with the prospect of falling to 0-3, if he can't guide Patriot to victory over the Brits and Italian challenger Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

But the unflappable Barker has seen it all during his six previous America's Cup regattas and knows there is a lot of racing left.

"It's early days, it's one race," he says. "We obviously would have much preferred to have come out with a win, but at the same time, it's a long series and we've got to keep improving."

Barker admits they made a couple of crucial errors - both pre-start and during the race - that handed Ainslie and his crew an advantage they never looked like relinquishing.

Dropping off the foils twice during the race, the Americans were also pipped to the start gate by an aggressive Team UK, who proved much stiffer opposition than many predicted, after a disastrous pre-Christmas campaign. 

"It was a pretty tough race," notes Barker. "We got off the line in OK shape and didn’t really expect it to be quite as big a difference at North Head. 

"Clearly, that gave the control to INEOS and they sailed a really good race. Going into today, we knew they were going a lot better from what we'd seen in the practice racing.

"Maybe it was a surprise for some, but we kind of knew it was going to be pretty close. We lost a couple of opportunities, areas straight away, where we knew we could have done a better job keeping it close. 

"We will look back through at the race and look at the key decision moments, trying to understand how we could have executed that race better, one or two key areas that ended up to be the difference."

Saturday's racing begins at 3pm, with Luna Rossa and American Magic meeting head-to-head for the first time. 

Join us at 3pm Saturday for live updates of the America's Cup challenger series