Dean Barker calls in lawyers — report

Helmsman goes legal, in the great tradition of the America's Cup.

A furious Dean Barker has called in the lawyers as the bitter battle over his future with Team New Zealand intensifies, the Herald on Sunday reports.

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Team New Zealand is reportedly planning to dump Dean Barker as helmsman, instead replacing him with 24-year-old Peter Burling.

Officially, a review is still underway, with no decision about Mr Barker or other crew members.

Mr Burling skippered the New Zealand sailing team entry to victory in the Red Bull Youth America’s cup in San Francisco in September 2013, and was only signed on to the next America’s Cup in January last year.

Newstalk ZB's Tony Veitch revealed the plan on the Larry Williams show on Thursday afternoon, and also claims the Government will help fund the 35th America's Cup challenge, reported to take place in Auckland early 2017. America's Cup organisers are to formally announce the plan next month.

Despite the rumours, the team released a statement saying that no decision had been made in relation to the helmsman for the America's Cup 2017.

It also said: "The team had been conducting a review across all operations, the sailing team included, with a view to decreasing costs and increasing competitiveness. The review is continuing."

While $36 million was committed to the last losing campaign, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce told media today that Team NZ is likely to get less government funding this time round.

The Government has previously acknowledged that having the big-spending syndicates in Auckland for months in the lead-up to the cup provides an economic boost.

However, it will not confirm funding details until the America’s Cup Authority formally announces whether New Zealand has secured the qualifiers’ series, which means five challengers, and defenders Oracle Team USA, would be based in Auckland for up to three months in the lead-up to the 35th America's Cup.

Team New Zealand, which the taxpayer has already spent $5 million keeping, has said it would struggle to make a challenge without Government help and has asked for a similar amount as last time.

The 2017 finals are to take place in the Bermuda.

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