Ousted Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker might soon come head-to-head with former boss Grant Dalton around the boardroom table.
Barker was yesterday announced as skipper and chief executive of the newly formed Japanese challenge, Softbank Team Japan, which confirmed their entry in the 2017 America's Cup this month.
His dual role will involve him heavily in planning all elements of the campaign, as well as representing the team in competitors' forums.
In the fraught politics of the America's Cup, fostering co-operation among the challengers has often been a tricky proposition, as teams naturally act in self-interest. In the current Cup cycle, a rift has already developed between the challengers after Artemis and Ben Ainslie Racing backed a move by America's Cup bosses to radically alter the design of the boat as part of cost-cutting measures - a decision that led to the withdrawal of Team NZ's strongest ally, Luna Rossa.
But Barker said he hadn't thought much about his working relationship with Team NZ - from which he was effectively dumped after more than 15 years of involvement.
"I'm just focusing on the challenge I've got ahead of me. The last couple of months I've had time to reflect and I'm still really motivated to be involved in the America's Cup and this opportunity is all I've hoped for," he told the Herald from Bermuda, where he and Team Japan's general manager Kazuhiko "Fuku" Sofuku have been meeting America's Cup officials.
Barker parted ways with Team NZ in March in a messy split after he rejected an offer to take on a coaching and performance analyst role following a restructure of the team.
He said at the time he was not done with sailing, and when Team Japan offered him the opportunity to return to a role on the boat and take a lead in the running of the campaign, he leapt at the chance.
Barker's first task in his new role is a daunting one. He has two months to assemble his sailing team and get them up to speed in the new AC45 foiling catamarans before the first world series event in Portsmouth.
Barker said the intention was to have a Japanese influence in the team, but he has not ruled out the possibility of former teammates or other Kiwi sailors joining him.
"We're still in the process of looking how it all comes together," he said.
"We have to look at the specific roles we need to fill, I certainly won't discount anyone."
Team Japan will soon take possession of their own AC45, which has just been converted at Oracle's Warkworth boat-building operation for the world series events. The syndicate will then hold trials in Japan to look at the local sailing talent on offer.
Japan has contested three America's Cups " in 1992, 1995 and 2000 " but has no history in the new multi-hull game.
But America's Cup authorities last month introduced cost-cutting measures last month that included the move to smaller 48-foot foiling catamarans.
Barker said that made it easier for teams to get up to speed more quickly.
"The changes ... have made the entry a lot more affordable in America's Cup terms, so it means teams can come in at a later stage and be competitive."
Softbank Team Japan
• The newest syndicate to challenge for the 2017 America's Cup, Team Japan threw their hat in the ring only last month.
• The team did so after striking a deal with Cup holder Oracle, who are helping with basic design information.
• The Japanese syndicate is backed by banker Masoyashi Son whose wealth is estimated to be $29 billion, making him Japan's wealthiest man.
• Dean Barker's inclusion in Team Japan continues New Zealand's strong links in Cup racing with that country. Chris Dickson skippered Japan's 1992 challenge in San Diego, where they reached the semifinals of the Louis Vuitton Cup, and John Cutler was at the helm of Nippon Challenge in the 1995 regatta.