America's Cup: Team Korea seeking to sign major sponsors for Challenge

Team Korea in the first race of the America’s Cup World Series regatta in Naples, Italy.

Team Korea is still on the search for major sponsors for its bid for the 34th America’s Cup. Team Design and Technical Director, Brett Bakewell-White told Sail-World today that providing the sponsorship is in place they intend to start building at the end of August.

Just over a month ago the team paid the USD200,000 entry fee for the America’s Cup Regatta, becoming the fourth Challenger.

Bakewell-White says that hull will be built in Korea, as required by the Protocol. 'We have a very good facility set up in Busan, it’s an existing facility, not a building that has been constructed especially for this project.

'We have most of the carbon and build materials ordered and in Korea – all ready to go,' he added.

Outteridge and Jensen on the final day of the 2012 49er World Championships
Nikola Sisko

The Korean Government is making a significant contribution to the build project. 'We want to use this project in the same way the New Zealand Marine Industry has developed into a major force off the back off the America’s Cup. However it is hard for the Koreans to make the connection between recreational boating, in which they are currently investing heavily in, and the leverage and profile that can be gained internationally from building an America’s Cup Challenger.'

The Korean boat will be to an existing America’s Cup 72 design. 'We are not doing all the design work ourselves, as intended, and will be building someone else’s design but because some aspects of the design are incomplete there is still a lot of design detail to be done.'

Like ETNZ and Luna Rossa, the components except for the hull will be built at other yards. 'Because the boat has to be able to be disassembled for shipping, it lends itself to having the components built by multiple yards. Also with the state of the marine industry at present there is a lot of spare capacity around the world, so delivery times are not that much of an issue provided you have a choice of builders.'

The various components and hulls for Team Korea’s boat will be shipped directly to San Francisco, and she will be assembled there, ahead of the Louis Vuitton Cup which starts in July 2013.

Oracle Team USA shows a hoisted L-dagger board, to windward, with the leeward hull fully supported and flying, while trialing in San Francisco on the AC45’s. The T-foil rudder is also evident, just clear of the water on the rear of the windward hull
Turning to the Emirates Team NZ AC72, unveiled last week, Bakewell-White says he was initially a little under-whelmed by the design, but adds that sometimes it is very difficult to design what appears to be a simple boat. 'There are clearly some very nice details in the wing control system, I like the general arrangement of the platform, it's simple and robust has a great deal of merit for this event given the new class and the venue.'

Asked whether he believes the AC72’s will be running with hulls clear of the water, as evidenced by the shots released by Oracle of their test AC45’s sailing with 'L' Boards off San Francisco, Bakewell-White says the AC72 rule is 'just screaming out for hydrofoils, but with the prohibition on adjustable surfaces, a foil borne boat is quite hard to achieve.'

While not disclosing the Team’s budget or potential sponsors, Bakewell-White did say that their budget was more than the EUR16million stated by the other prospective Challenger, the French Energy Team, but well south of the budgets of the other four teams who have already entered. With the other teams remuneration costs are commonly reckoned to be about 60% of the budgets, and the amount of the size of top line rises and falls with the size of team salaries.

Entries for the 34th America’s Cup close on August 1, 2012.

Next big moment for Team Korea could come at the 2012 Olympics in Weymouth, where their helmsman Nathan Outteridge, winner of the past two World Championships in the Olympic 49er Skiff, and four world championships in total, is competing and is expected to be a very serious contender for a Gold medal in the class.