Nathan Outteridge becomes latest skipper to depart America’s Cup challenger Team Korea

 

The revolving door marked skipper at America’s Cup challenger Team Korea is spinning again as Australian Olympic gold medallist Nathan Outteridge departs after just seven months, about the same tenure as his predecessor Chris Draper, an Olympic bronze medallist.

Outteridge, who, with crew Iain Jensen, blitzed the 49er fleet in the London 2012 regatta last month, is expected to join one of the three confirmed challengers for next year’s 34 America’s Cup with the Swedish-based Artemis as the front runner. Draper is with Italy’s Prada-backed Luna Rossa challenge. The third is Emirates Team New Zealand.

The imminent official announcement by Korea team boss Dong-Young Kim, which will name Outteridge’s successor, may also be coupled with final confirmation that Team Korea is putting its current Cup challenge on hold, though it has paid the $200,000 entry fee, and aiming at AC35.

But the cost of mounting a viable challenge in the new class of 72-foot wing-powered catamarans is upwards of $100m. So far Team Korea, which also has links with English premier league soccer club Sunderland, has failed to announce that it has raised any significant budget.

Among the Team Korea crew in Naples, Venice, Newport, Rhode Island, and San Francisco this year have been three top British talents, Giles Scott, Mark Bulkeley, and Matt Cornwell. Announcing a new skipper implies that Team Korea will race at the America’s Cup World Series regatta in San Francisco early next month. If so, the crew will then need to be confirmed.

Another win for the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda’s Azzurra in the first race of the day for the 52 Super Series off Valencia signalled the start of an intense bout of match racing in the second as the Italians, now within two points of the overall lead, fought to keep the American yacht Quantum behind them.

That allowed Niklas Zennström’s British-based Rán to win the second race while, having kept Quantum fifth and last in fourth, Azzurra managed to sneak and extra place by passing Tony Langley’s Gladiator on the last leg.

That put Quantum and Azzurra on equal points after 27 races, Quantum ahead on the tie-break because it has won one more race than Azzurra, and three more races scheduled, two on Friday and the finale on Saturday.

“It’s going to be exciting,” said Azzurra’a American, now Kiwi, coach Rod Davis. “Our first mission was to cut down the six-point deficit and we’ve done that. We are always tweaking our game plan and I’m sure they are, too.”

Vasco Vascotto, Azzurra’s tactician, added: “There’s a long way to go but I am proud about all our team. We are sailing very nice regattas and we just have to keep going like that.”

Ed Baird, skipper of Quantum, was in laid back mood. “We had an ugly day on Wednesday and today was not pretty, but this is a very experienced crew and you can be sure we will be fighting hard,” he said.

In Cascais, Portugal, the five 70-foot trimarans started their third offshore leg of the MOD70 European tour to Marseille facing light and flukey winds for all of the 1,000-plus miles.

“There will be puffs of wind here and there. One boat could get away and others are bound to get parked up. Yet again it’s impossible to predict a favourite,” said Brian Thompson on Musandam-Oman Sail, who revealed they will leave with five days of food on board, even though the leg should finish inside three.     

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