America's Cup 2021: Former skipper Dean Barker, American Magic draw first blood against Team NZ at world series

Former Team NZ skipper Dean Barker has claimed early bragging rights over his old outfit on the opening day of sailing at the America's Cup World Series.

Now at the helm of American Magic, the Auckland boy showed his local knowledge on the Waitematā Harbour, guiding Patriot to a thrilling victory over the home team for their second win of the regatta - already the only unbeaten team. 

Both syndicates were easy early winners, as Team NZ accounted for Luna Rossa in the event's first contest, while the Americans took full advantage of the struggling Team UK. 

While Luna Rossa may have sand-bagged their way through their opening race, they found themselves alone on the water, after Team UK could not complete their second outing.

But the American Magic/Team NZ showdown captured the imagination of spectators, who flocked to vantage points around the harbour, both on and off the water.

Even before the start, the Kiwis seemed to suffer technical problems and trailled their rivals into the first leg.

At the start of the third leg, helm Peter Burling attempted a sharp tack to the right of the course and Te Rehutai fell of its foils, effectively doubling their deficit.

Halfway through, Team NZ were 26 seconds behind, but chipped six seconds off that downwind on the next leg.

They engaged the Americans in a tacking duel upwind for the final time and miraculously passed them on the inside rounding the bottom mark, only to make a tactical error by tacking away and immediately cede the lead back.

Patriot had too much straightline speed downwind and eventually won by six seconds.

"We definitely didn't make life easy for ourselves," admits Burling. "We had a bit of an issue before the start and then compounded that by trying a few too many tricky manoeuvres on my part.

"But it was great to see what the boat could do, and to make that many mistakes and still be in the race is pretty pleasing for the weeks ahead."

Still, it's early days for all teams, with plenty of opportunity to improve on their initial efforts over the next four days and certainly before the Prada Cup challenger series begins on January 15.

Tomorrow's key races will see Luna Rossa and American Magic race each other twice, while Team UK will hope to solve some of their problems overnight, before facing Team NZ.

Join us at 3pm Friday for live updates of the America's Cup World Series