Challenger emerges for next Cup, website says
By Tom FitzGerald
San Francisco Chronicle
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Sept. 29–A yacht club on Australia’s eastern coast is the official challenger of record for the 35th America’s Cup, the Australian sailing website Mysailing.com reported Saturday.
Hamilton Island Yacht Club is expected to be announced as the official challenger to Oracle Team USA this week.
Tom Ehman, a key Oracle adviser and vice commodore of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, the host of this year’s regatta, declined to comment on the report. He said Commodore Norbert Bajurin had received challenges from two teams, one of which will serve as the backup challenger.
An announcement is expected early this week.
The challenger of record works with the defender to set the rules for the next Cup regatta, including determining the type of boat and picking the venue. Owner Larry Ellison said he’d love to hold it in San Francisco but said he and city officials will have to work out the details.
Another important choice will be the dates of the regatta, which might be delayed until 2017 because many world-class sailors will be involved in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Hamilton Island co-owner Sandy Oatley wouldn’t confirm the challenge to Mysailing: “It’s a lovely rumor, but we can’t confirm that it’s true.”
However, the site said, a “very reliable source” confirmed that America’s Cup Race Management has advised Emirates Team New Zealand that Hamilton Island Yacht Club will be the challenger of record.
Initially it was thought that the challenger of record would be one of this year’s losing syndicates in the Louis Vuitton Cup, either Italy’s Luna Rossa Challenge or Sweden’s Artemis Racing.
Oatley’s father, Bob Oatley, bought Hamilton Island after selling his wine empire to Foster’s brewery. The family has long been connected to sailing.
The Hamilton Island yacht syndicate is managed by three-time world Laser champion and former Volvo Race chief executive Glenn Bourke. The Oatleys’ yacht Wild Oats XI is skippered by Mark Richards, a crewman on oneAustralia when it sank off San Diego during the 1995 America’s Cup.
Iain Murray, the regatta director for the 34th America’s Cup, is a long-time friend of the Oatleys. He helped design the yacht club and was its original commodore.
Tom FitzGerald is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.
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