Chris Draper gets his AC ride
Today as Team Korea, celebrated its entry into the 34th America's Cup, so the team known locally as the White Tiger Challenge, revealed their skipper and helmsman, Britain's Chris Draper.
Draper, 33, is best known as an Olympic 49er sailor, picking up the bronze medal in Athens and being crowned World Champion twice in 2003 and 2006. However since 2008 Draper has sailed on the Extreme Sailing Series, finishing fourth in his initial year and winning as helmsman of Oman Sail Masirah the subsequent year.
"I consider it an extremely proud honour to have been chosen by Team Korea as their skipper, and I would like to thank Mr Kim and his team for the trust they have put in me," said Draper. "I am looking forward to the first regatta in Portugal next month, and an intense period of training ahead of that with our new crew. We have selected experts I have been sailing with for many years, and will be formally announcing them all next week. It’s a team that I believe will be able to quickly get our ‘White Tiger’ flying around the course at top speed.
"We are entering an exciting phase now and expectations are high, with a new format, new race courses and new technology tracking every move, but we are certain that Team Korea can quickly be up to speed with the best."
In acknowledging a forward thinking appointment, CEO of Team Korea, Kim Dong-Young said, "We know some may be surprised at our decision, but he’s young, keen, hungry and can sail fast. We wanted someone who could sail the angles in small high-speed dinghies around the course, but who also has experience of catamarans, as much of the racing in the ACWS relies on fleet racing, and here, high speed control is vital to success."
Only 15 nations have ever entered the America’s Cup contest in its history, and Team Korea is the only new entry of the nine teams and eight countries involved this time.
Kim Dong-Young continued: "I am very proud to have helped create a new chapter for the sport and in the history of the America’s Cup by being involved with the first ever Korean Challenge. It has been a dream of more than 10 years for me, ever since I first saw the old America’s Cup yachts racing in New Zealand."
Known as the ‘White Tiger Challenge’, or ‘Baek-Ho’ in Korean, the team’s new livery for the AC45 catamaran, due to be launched in Portugal shortly, was also revealed for the first time. A dramatic tiger stripe design starts on the bows and fades to black where the Korean National flag, the ‘Taegukki’ is proudly displayed, and the yacht is finished with the round ‘Taggu’ filling the ‘O’ of Team Korea on the wing itself. Completing the design, a pair of stunning blue, ‘Eyes of the Tiger’ will be on the gennaker to help see the way forward.
Kim Dong-Young concluded: "We are a new team, in fact, the only new team to enter this series, and we hope we will get a lot of support and goodwill from the public here, from Korean’s around the world at the venues, and from sponsors in our great nation for the team to be as competitive as we all anticipate. The technology and infrastructure to make world class competition boats is available here in Korea, one of the biggest shipbuilding and industrial nations in the world, to help us in this quest. We also hope to stage a World Series event in Korea next year, so our people can see these incredible yachts racing here on our waters, as they will in the Middle East, Europe, America and other Asian cities.
"We know we have a lot to learn about the competition, but we have drawn together a very experienced and successful crew of international sailors, who should quickly be competitive on the race track, though we want to also introduce home grown talent as we progress too. We begin a period of training in Portugal next week, and then we’re looking towards that first, historic race on August 6, when Team Korea crosses the start line in an America’s Cup World Series event for the very first time. Kamsahamnida."