Dean Barker admits he finds it strange working together with former rival Jimmy Spithill as they spearhead Team Japan's America's Cup challenge for Bermuda 2017.

The unlikely alliance occurred following Barker's ugly split from Team New Zealand earlier this year, when the 43-year-old was brought on board to head Team Japan's campaign.

Barker had to endure a relentless mental battle with Spithill as the brash Australian steered Oracle back from 8-1 down to trump Team New Zealand 9-8 and hold on to the Auld Mug in San Francisco in 2013.

As part of Team Japan's late entry, they have been gifted a design package from Oracle, and Barker acknowledges the irony in the situation and says the arrangement has taken some getting used to.


"Is it strange? Yes it is. We were trying to rip each other's throats out two years ago," Barker told

"For our team it's great because we know the design package we will get is going to be good enough to go out and win."

From being fierce rivals, the pair now find themselves based in Bermuda and working towards the same goal.

Barker says Oracle's help can only aid Team Japan in their quest to become competitive but they have their sights set on higher goals.

"We are going out to win, it's nothing more complex than that," he said.

The new challenge was refreshing, after the America's Cup had consumed him for much of the past 20-years.

"The ability to bring together a group of people with the same objective ... it actually motivates you more when you are outside your comfort zone, I think it makes you take a step back and realise what were the ingredients you relied on in the past to be successful. That part is going to be the interesting part."

Reflecting on his departure from Team New Zealand, Barker says it was easy to move on after he had been stripped of the skipper's title for the next campaign.


"In the end, it wasn't hard at all. I'd made my decision. I didn't enjoy what was going on there. So in the end it wasn't hard at all."

He insists he can look back on the failed campaign fondly, despite the bitter heartbreak of letting such a big lead slip through his grasp.

"You get caught up in the moment, taking it race by race, you don't really look at the bigger picture.

"By the time we got to 8-1 we could see they were making some pretty remarkable improvements. Once they got to that point they were pretty much unstoppable.

"But we still thought we could win the thing."

Raising the trophy once more, as he managed in 2000 when he partnered Russell Coutts at the helm of Team New Zealand's successful defence, remains his end goal.

"It is the ultimate goal in sailing to lift the America's Cup up. I'm incredibly motivated to do that again."