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Japanese challenger getting organized for America’s Cup World Series

Published on July 3rd, 2015

SoftBank Team Japan has selected its crew for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) event on July 25-26 in Portsmouth, UK. Skipper Dean Barker and wing-trimmer/tactician Chris Draper will be joined by trimmer Jeremy “Jero” Lomas, grinder Derek Saward and bowman Kazuhiko “Fuku” Sofuku at the first event of the new America’s Cup cycle.

“We are very pleased to have put together such a strong team, not only for this event but more importantly for the long term,” said Draper, who is also the Sailing Director for the team. “Jero and Derek have incredible sailing skills and experience. They are extremely multitalented individuals on the water and shoreside. We’re trying to echo this ethos throughout the team with all of the people we recruit.”

The event format features two days of fleet racing, with points collected during the ACWS events in 2015 and 2016 to count towards determining the challenger for the America’s Cup in 2017.

“We are going to be training together in Portsmouth from July 13,” Draper continued. “We’ll have eight or nine days of sailing together, which is nothing like what some of our competition has done, but I think we’ll gel quickly and be ready to compete at a high level.”

With the team having limited opportunity to train together, Draper and Fuku recently competed in the Extreme Sailing Series in Cardiff on 40-foot catamarans.

“We both got a bit of a baptism there. Fuku is a very skilled bowman so he wanted a chance to transfer his skills across to catamarans. Day one we had something like 10 races, so we built up a lot of experience in a hurry!”

The team has also added Tyson Lamond and Adrian Gray to its shore team.

“Tyson and Adrian will be a great boost to our team ” Draper said. “We’re grateful that ORACLE TEAM USA will provide a few other shore crew for us in Portsmouth as we continue to build out our team.

“All of us have been very busy making plans for moving the team to Bermuda later this year and setting up our base, ready to be fully operational by the end of the year. And we have a training camp in Japan planned in early October to identify top young Japanese sailors who could help and be a part of the team.

“The people coming on board with us are extremely talented individuals, at the top of their game. We are not here to make up the numbers and everyone that is joining the team has the same belief. SoftBank Team Japan is an incredible opportunity to have a new start and to push extremely hard for success.”

Source: America’s Cup. Photo of SoftBank Team Japan sailor ‘Fuku’ during a recent AC45 training session in the UK with Land Rover BAR.

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