Team Australia skipper revealed
Hamilton Island Yacht Club, the Australian Challenger of Record for the 35th America's Cup has announced Olympic 470 Gold Medallist Mat Belcher as its skipper.
At the Team Australia media launch Iain Murray, CEO Team Australia, said Hamilton Island Yacht Club was keen for the immense talents of Australia’s sailors to be showcased: “As a country, we’ve proven we can produce some of the best sailors in the world, and now it’s our turn to build an all-Aussie winning team skippered by one of most awarded Australian sailors. Mat is a remarkable example of an elite athlete and one of the most accomplished sailors that Australia has ever produced."
Belcher, the 2013 Rolex ISAF World Sailor of Year, Olympic Champion, five-time World 470 Champion and quadruple 2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup Winner, will lead Team Australia’s first training sessions on Sydney Harbour with Oracle Team USA.
On being announced Skipper of Team Australia, Belcher said: “I’m humbled and excited by this honour. It’s an incredible opportunity and I’m looking forward to the journey, coming aboard and working together with the crew to bring the Cup back to Australia.”
With the appointment of Mat Belcher as skipper of Team Australia and Olympic Gold Medallists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen part of the Artemis race team, three current Australian Sailing Team members form part of the 35th America’s Cup Challenge. Olympic Gold medallist Tom Slingsby continues his America’s Cup campaign as part of Oracle Team USA, while Olympic medallist Glenn Ashby will once again play a key role in Emirates Team New Zealand’s challenge.
While the athletes have the support of Australian Sailing for their America’s Cup campaigns, the focus for Belcher, Outteridge and Jensen remains on their Olympic campaign towards Rio 2016 and on defending their 2012 London Olympic Gold medals. “I have no doubt that I can combine my Olympic goal of winning another Gold Medal with my America’s Cup involvement. Tom Slingsby and Nathan Outteridge have done this before and I will use that as a guide. I have the support of the Australian Sailing Team, our coach Victor Kovalenko, OAM as well as of my crew mate Will Ryan”, Belcher reiterated today.
Performance Director Peter Conde supported Belcher’s view: “If someone can do this, it’s Mat. He has immense experience and we were in a similar situation before 2012 when Nathan Outteridge and Tom Slingsby sailed the AC45 ahead of their Gold medal success in London.”
Team Australia will use the training sessions on Sydney Harbour this week to rotate a number of crew through the boat, introducing them to the AC45 catamaran, as they race against Oracle Team USA.
In addition to Belcher, plus Seve Jarvin, Sam Newton, Ed Smyth and Troy Tindill - who are campaigning Team Australia's Extreme 40, additional crew announced today include Peter Gilmour's son, David, Will McCarthy and Wade Morgan.