Hamo puts Whit­sun­days on world map as Amer­ica’s Cup chal­lenger

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

HAMIL­TON Is­land’s own­ers Bob and Sandy Oat­ley have cat­a­paulted the Whit­sun­day re­gion into the global spot­light by of­fi­cially chal­leng­ing for the next Amer­ica’s Cup.

The fa­ther and son want to do what Aus­tralia II did three decades ago and win the cov­eted yacht rac­ing tro­phy. Aus­tralia II’s his­toric Amer­ica’s Cup win in 1983 ended the New York Yacht Club’s 132year reign as the Cup’s de­fender and was widely re­garded as one of Aus­tralia’s great­est sport­ing mo­ments.

The Oat­leys filed their chal­lenge for the tro­phy af­ter Or­a­cle Team USA, owned by bil­lion­aire Larry El­li­son, won the 34th Amer­ica’s Cup in San Fran­cisco last Wed­nes­day, against Emi­rates Team New Zealand.

Ru­mours ran wild about the chal­lenge but were not of­fi­cially con­firmed by the fam­ily un­til Tues­day morn­ing.

Bob Oat­ley said as proud Aus­tralians and given Aus­tralia’s pre­vi­ous suc­cess in the Amer­ica’s Cup, the Ad­mi­ral’s Cup and Olympic yacht­ing “we think it is time for our na­tion to be back in our sport’s pin­na­cle event”.

“The re­cently com­pleted Amer­ica’s Cup in San Fran­cisco has rev­o­lu­tionised the sport for sailors and fans and we were ex­cited to see how many Aus­tralians played key roles on the teams and in the re­gatta or­gan­i­sa­tion,” he said.

As the chal­lenger of record for the 35th Amer­ica’s Cup, ex­pected to be held in 2016/17, the Hamil­ton Is­land Yacht Club’s (HIYC) Aus­tralian team has a chance to shape the fu­ture of the event and will rep­re­sent all chal­lengers in deal­ings with the de­fender, Or­a­cle Team USA of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, (GGYC) San Fran­cisco.

GGYC vice com­modore and Amer­ica’s Cup li­ai­son Tom Eh­man said the dates, type of boat, for­mat and rules would be sub­ject to ne­go­ti­a­tion be­tween the chal­lenger of record and the de­fender, fol­low­ing con­sul­ta­tion with prospec­tive chal­lengers, venues, spon­sors and other stake­hold­ers.

“Both clubs are keen to have mul­ti­ple chal­lengers, as has been the norm since 1970 and to cut cam­paign costs for all teams, but first we must de­ter­mine the venue, which, un­der the Amer­ica’s Cup Deed of Gift, is de­cided by the de­fender,” he said.

GGYC and HIYC ex­pect to have a pro­to­col gov­ern­ing the 35th Amer­ica’s Cup, agreed and pub­lished in the first few months of 2014.

Mean­while, Hamil­ton Is­land CEO Glenn Bourke, a three-time Amer­ica’s Cup chal­lenger him­self, said it was likely a new boat would be built. He ex­pects the Amer­i­cans will con­tinue their pref­er­ence for cata­ma­rans “given the ex­cite­ment they pro­duced this year”.

Mr Bourke isn’t rul­ing out try­ing to se­cure the ser­vices of James Sp­ithill, this year’s win­ning skip­per and the man be­hind one of the great­est come-from-be­hind wins in sport­ing his­tory.

News of the chal­lenge has been es­pe­cially wel­comed at a lo­cal level for the spec­tac­u­lar pub­lic­ity it will un­doubt­edly bring. Whit­sun­days Mar­ket­ing and De­vel­op­ment CEO Da­nial Rochford said the po­ten­tial for the Whit­sun­days in lever­ag­ing from an in­ter­na­tional event of such sig­nif­i­cance was enor­mous and would raise the pro­file of the re­gion as a world-class sail­ing des­ti­na­tion.

PRIZE TRO­PHY: Hamil­ton Is­land's owner Bob Oat­ley with Amer­ica's Cup win­ning skip­per James Sp­ithill and Hamil­ton Is­land Yacht Club (HIYC) com­modore Iain Mur­ray, hold­ing the pres­ti­gious Amer­ica's Cup tro­phy, which was dis­played at the Hamil­ton Is­land Yacht Club dur­ing Hamil­ton Is­land Race Week.

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