Up for the challenge: Bob Oatley, pictured in 2007.Australia’s return as challenger for the America’s Cup is expected to be confirmed on Tuesday morning, Sydney time, with current holders Golden Gate Yacht Club due to make the announcement in the US.
It was reported on Monday that Australian winemaker Bob Oatley and his son Sandy submitted an official challenge with Oracle Team USA, owned by Larry Ellison, as soon as their catamaran crossed the line to defend their title last Thursday against Team New Zealand, winning the series 9-8 after being 8-1 down a week earlier.
It was reported that the challenge papers were lodged with an official from the Golden Gate Yacht Club with which Oracle Team USA is registered and which, under competition law, is the official Cup holder.
Neither Bob nor Sandy Oatley would comment on Monday. But Rob Mundle, media manager for their sailing operations widely known for the success of their maxi-yacht Wild Oats XI in the Sydney to Hobart, said: ”There will be an announcement tomorrow morning [Tuesday, AEST] by the Golden Gate Yacht Club. I know Bob and Sandy would love to see Australia back in the ring, as would people all over the world.”
It is understood the reason why lips were remaining sealed on Monday about any announcement of an Australian challenge was for Golden Gate Yacht Club, as the Cup holders, to announce a challenger. Reuters reported on Monday that immediately after Oracle-Team USA won the final race, Ellison received the challenge, but declined to name the challenger.
Asked by Reuters if it was Oatley, Tom Ehman of the Golden Gate Yacht Club declined to comment. ”I’ll announce early next week, possibly Monday,” he said in a text message.
The name of the challenging club was not confirmed, but if the Oatleys are behind the challenge, it is likely to be the Hamilton Island Yacht Club. Bob Oatley, whose interest in the America’s Cup is understood to have grown in recent years, attended last Thursday’s gala lunch in Sydney for the 30th anniversary of the 1983 America’s Cup triumph by Alan Bond’s Australia II.
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