Hamilton Island Yacht Club (HIYC), located on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia, has challenged for the 35th America’s Cup. HIYC’s challenge has been accepted by the Golden Gate Yacht Club, which remains the Defender and Trustee of the world’s oldest international sporting trophy after its team, ORACLE TEAM USA owned by Larry Ellison, won the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco last Wednesday.
For the past three decades HIYC has run Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, which has become the largest annual regatta in Australia with some 200 offshore yachts competing in recent years.
HIYC is led by Australian winemaker and sailing legend Bob Oatley, whose succession of yachts named Wild Oats have dominated ocean racing in Australia for years, including having won six of the last eight Sydney-Hobart races. An Australian team led by Mr. Oatley won the last Admiral’s Cup, widely regarded as the world’s top prize in ocean racing.
The challenge was filed by Mr. Oatley and his son, Sandy, on behalf of HIYC shortly after ORACLE TEAM USA won the thrilling deciding final race in the 34th America’s Cup against Emirates Team New Zealand on San Francisco Bay on September 25th.
“We are delighted to have Hamilton Island Yacht Club and the Oatley’s leading Australia back into the America’s Cup for the first time since 2000,” said GGYC Vice Commodore and America’s Cup liaison Tom Ehman. “Hamilton Island’s challenge was filed on the day Australia was celebrating the 30th anniversary of Australia II’s historic win in the 1983 America’s Cup off Newport, RI, which ended New York Yacht Club’s 132-year reign as the Cup’s defender.”
“Given Australia’s previous success in the America’s Cup, the Admiral’s Cup and Olympic yachting, and as proud Australians, we think it is time for our nation to be back in our sport’s pinnacle event,” Mr. Oatley said. “The recently completed America’s Cup in San Francisco has revolutionized 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 organization.”
Vice Commodore Ehman added, “The dates, type of boat, format and rules are subject to negotiation between the Challenger of Record and 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.”
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