A Japanese team is set to challenge for the America’s Cup for the first time in 17 years. An official announcement is expected before the end of the month.
Japan is set to challenge for the America’s Cup 2017, aided by Oracle Team USA
The Pacific island nation will be re-entering the fray to try to claim the blue riband sailing trophy for the first time since the Nippon Ocean Racing Club and the Nippon Yacht Club had a tilt in 1992 and 1995, respectively, with Nippon Challenge, led by Australian Peter Gilmour, seeing the last attempt in 2000.
The Japanese team competing for Bermuda 2017 will be sponsored by SoftBank, the telecommunications multinational, for the Kansai Yacht Club. It was anticipated that more teams would be vying for the Cup – and some from Asia as well – after a recent dramatic rule change that saw the current competitors vote to race on smaller boats.
The challenge for America’s Cup 2017 will be led by a Japanese skipper in tandem with Dean Barker, the former Team New Zealand captain. The fact that there is a Kiwi prominently involved with Japan’s challenge is no surprise if history is any guide. Chris Dickson skippered the 1992 challenge in San Diego, where Japan reached the semi-finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup. At the 1995 regatta in San Diego, John Cutler was at the helm of the challenge that also ended at the semi-final stage.
Oracle, the America’s Cup Defender representing the Golden Gate Yacht Club, is expected to offer some support to the Japanese. Oracle boss Larry Ellison is predicted to attend the signing ceremony along with Maysoyashi Son, CEO of SoftBank.
The America’s Cup is regarded as the world’s oldest sporting competition and was first competed for off the Isle of Wight in 1851. The New York Yacht Club won the day against the British Royal Yacht Squadron, whilst Queen Victoria looked on. The journey to the next America’s Cup has come the full circle of the globe and returns to the waters of the Solent this July with the America’s Cup World Series event in Portsmouth.