Team Australia withdraws from the 35th America’s Cup

Published on July 18th, 2014

(July 18, 2014) – The America’s Cup organizers received notification today from the principals of Hamilton Island Yacht Club (HIYC) of their intention to withdraw Team Australia from the 35th America’s Cup.

HIYC, located on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia, was the first team to submit a challenge following the successful defense by Oracle Team USA at the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco on September 25, 2013. Their entry was confirmed on September 30.

“When we entered the Cup we had the intention of trying to change the Cup in many ways,” explained Sandy Oatley, speaking on behalf of HIYC. “Our position as Challenger of Record gave us the opportunity through the drafting of the protocol to affect this change. Central to these changes, was the desire to make the participation in the Cup more affordable and more sustainable.”

The Australian challenge was a long held dream of Sandy’s father, Bob Oatley, a strong supporter of his country’s Olympic sailors, who was eager to see those talents put to use in a team that represented their country in the America’s Cup.

“The Challenge was initiated with a view to negotiating a format for the 35th America’s Cup that was affordable and put the emphasis back on sailing skills,” noted Bob. “Ultimately our estimate of the costs of competing was well beyond our initial expectation and our ability to make the formula of our investment and other commercial support add up. We are bitterly disappointed that this emerging team of fine young Australian sailors will not be able to compete at the next America’s Cup under our banner.”

When the Protocol was released (June 3, 2014), which defines the rules, format and commercial regulations for the 35th America’s Cup, there was immediate cost concerns regarding event entry and multiple race venues.

“We are very disappointed to be receiving this news,” said Russell Coutts, Director of the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA). “But our focus going forward is with the teams that have already submitted challenges and the teams that have told us of their intent to do so before the entry deadline on August 8th.”

ACEA is continuing its work to select a host venue for the America’s Cup in 2017, with an aim to announce the final venue in October.

“We remain supportive of the Defender’s continued drive towards a more commercial event format, along with a more sustainable future for this historic trophy,” stated Ben Ainslie, who is leading a British effort to compete in the event. “While the withdrawal of the Challenger of Record is regrettable, it is also not unusual.”

A similar situation occurred in the 34th America’s Cup, when defense club Golden Gate Yacht Club accepted a Challenge from Yacht Club di Roma (Italy) on May 6, 2010, but their team of Mascalzone Latino led by Vincenzo Onorato pulled out the following year (May 12, 2011), citing financial problems.

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