America’s Cup: How opposites attract

Published on March 6th, 2014

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
The American team Oracle Team USA wasn’t too American during its successful defense in the 34th America’s Cup. During the span of their campaign, there appeared to be no mandate to nationalize the team. When crossing the final finish line of the 34th Match, only one American was among the 11 crew.

The Challenger of Record for the 35th America’s Cup, Team Australia, appears to be taking on this mandate.

“We’re incredibly proud to put forward this Australian challenge and hope all Australians come together and rally behind us,” declared Sandy Oatley, Chairman of Challenger – Hamilton Island Yacht Club. “There is a great sense of pride in Australia striving to win the America’s Cup.”

Team Australia has chosen Australian Sailing Team’s Olympic Gold Medallist Mathew Belcher as its skipper.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Mat,” shared Yachting Australia’s Performance Director Peter Conde. “We are very excited for him as well as for our sponsor Hamilton Island and the Oatley family who have been strong supporters of the Australian Sailing Team over the last decade. We have very talented sailors on our team and it’s great to see that this is recognised by professional programs like the America’s Cup.”

Team Australia CEO Iain Murray sees the America’s Cup as an opportunity to connect the successful accomplishments within his country.

“As a country, we’ve proven we can produce some of the best sailors in the world, and now it’s our turn to build an all-Aussie winning team skippered by one of most awarded Australian sailors.”

Beyond Team Australia, the country appears that it will be well represented in the 35th America’s Cup.

In addition to the appointment of Belcher as skipper of Team Australia, Olympic Gold Medallists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are part of the Swedish Artemis team, Olympic Gold medallist Tom Slingsby continues with the Defender, while Olympic medallist Glenn Asbhy will once again play a key role in Team New Zealand’s challenge.

And don’t forget about 2-time Cup winner Jimmy Spithill.

Team Australia should have company in their nationalistic approach. It is expected that challenges from New Zealand, England, Italy, and France will be well represented by their countrymen.

When the 35th America’s Cup Protocol is announced this month, it is expected to include a partial nationality crew clause, which should help to Americanize the defender.

Murray had hoped the nationality quota agreed upon in the still unfinished Cup laws and protocols would have been greater than 25 per cent, but he understood why the ratio could not be higher – yet.

“It looks like it’s going to be 25 per cent,” Murray said. “We would have hoped for more, but it’s a start. It’s important to bring more teams into it. There are a lot of inexperienced nations out there who will need to supplement their own crews with experienced crews.

“We hope that next time it will be a higher percentage … as the talent pool gets spread around and the knowledge base widens.”

Source: Team Australia, Yachting Australia, Sydney Morning Herald

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