America's Cup: Hamilton Island confirmed as next Challenger of Record

Bob Oatley raises the John Illingworth Trophy - Rolex Sydney Hobart Race 2012

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, and .

The official media release confirms that HIYC’s challenge has been accepted by the Golden Gate Yacht Club, which remains the Defender and Trustee of the America's Cup after its team, Oracle Team USA owned by Larry Ellison, won the 34th Match 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.

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.'



And for a Media Conference with Bob and Sandy Oatley click here

Details of the dates and boat, are required to be contained in the Challenge which has not been publicly released. The Defender and Challenger of Record will then negotiate a Protocol, which will open a period in which other Challengers may be lodged. Currently only one other Challenger is believed to be in the mix, with Artemis Racing having appointed Iain Percy (GBR) as its head, and charged with recruiting the best team possible.

Bob and Sandy Oatley appeared on Australian television this morning to announce the Challenge, saying that they expected to draw on the Australian sailors involved in other America's Cup Challenges for their team, along with pulling sailors from the Australian Olympic program.

Click here for a Media Conference given by Bob and Sandy Oatley

The next America's Cup is not expected to be staged until 2017 to avoid a clash with the 2016 Olympics which will he staged in Rio de Janeiro from August 5-21, 2016. The Australian Challenge is expected to have issues similar to those faced by Britain's Team Origin, who opted to flag away competing in the 2013 America's Cup after many of its key sailors were to be involved in their home Olympics, and felt that they would be compromising events to sail in both regattas in a 12 month period.

Pressure will also come on the many Australians involved in the existing America's Cup teams to sail for their home team.

No announcement has been made on any nationality rule or effective campaign cost reductions for the 35th America's Cup.