Will Australians be sailing for Australia?
Published on September 4th, 2017
The prospect of Australia rejoining the America’s Cup for Auckland 2021 continues to build momentum. The Australian newspaper reports that “a consortium of wealthy Australian businessmen – and keen yachties – might already be quietly discussing mounting a joint Australian entry.”
Interest across the Tasman has ramped up with the success of Emirates Team New Zealand in Bermuda where they beat holders Oracle Team USA to bring the Auld Mug back Down Under. Australia hasn’t had a syndicate since the Cup was last contested in Auckland in 2003 and it’s 34 years since Alan Bond’s Australia II broke the American stranglehold on sport’s oldest trophy, in 1983.
What grates the Australians is that so many of the key crew and management of foreign syndicates are now filled with Australians – Glenn Ashby skippered Team New Zealand’s catamaran, Jimmy Spithill, Kyle Langford and Tom Slingbsy were the main men on Oracle and Nathan Outteridge was at the helm of the impressive Swedish entry Artemis Racing. Additional names here.
Repatriation of sailors is a possibility in America’s Cup racing as was shown by Sir Ben Ainslie, who after winning the Cup in 2013 with Team USA returned to Britain to launch his country’s own syndicate Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) – a competitor at the 2017 regatta in Bermuda.
According to The Australian, the crucial figure in the latest syndicate discussions is 84-year-old property developer Ervin Vidor, a keen yachtie who owns hotel apartment chains Vibe, Medina, Adina and TraveLodge, and is reportedly worth more than $2 billion.
Other contributors could include former Porsche racing car expert and Brisbane office tower developer Peter Harburg and “accountant-to-the-stars” Anthony Bell, winner of last year’s Sydney to Hobart race.
America’s Cup great and skipper of the 1983 breakthrough, John Bertrand, has previously been mentioned as having the ability to pull together a worthy challenge for 2021.
The protocol for the next America’s Cup will be revealed by Team New Zealand in Auckland later this month. Expectations of a strong nationality clause being introduced will add to Australian claims that they could field a competitive team.
While it is unsure if American billionaire Larry Ellison will try to win the Cup back with Oracle, Spithill has said he is eager to remain involved in the America’s Cup.