By Johno Fullerton
SoftBank Corp and the Kansai Yacht Club announced they have come to an agreement to challenge for the 2017 America’s Cup. As SoftBank Team Japan, the team will compete in the 2015 America’s Cup World Series events, and challenge for the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda.
The campaign was confirmed today by Kazuhiko Sofuku, “Fuku”, a veteran of four previous America’s Cup campaigns who has been appointed as the team’s general manager.
“To lead a Japanese challenge for the America’s Cup is a dream come true,” said Fuku, who last raced with a Japanese team for the Cup 15 years ago as bowman for Nippon Challenge during the 1999/2000 Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series.
“This is a great opportunity for Japan and for Japanese sailors to get back into the America’s Cup game,” Fuku explained. “We are planning to build up our team using America’s Cup World Series events to recruit and train Japanese sailors for our crew.”
SoftBank Group representative Masayoshi Son said, “I am thrilled to announce that we will be supporting Team Japan at the America’s Cup.” He added, “Taking on this major challenge at the pinnacle of yacht races matches with the SoftBank Group’s aim to be the global No.1. We look forward to cheering on Team Japan along with all of their supporters.”
SoftBank Team Japan is challenging under the banner of the Kansai Yacht Club, among the most distinguished clubs in the country.
“It is an honour for the Kansai Yacht Club to try for the America’s Cup for the first time,” said Commodore Ko Watanabe. “This is a great challenge to take on, not just for our club, but for the entire country. With support from across the entire nation, I am sure we will represent Japan with pride.”
A base level of technical assistance from Oracle Team USA will be provided to SoftBank Team Japan as it prepares for the 2015 America’s Cup World Series events.
“SoftBank Team Japan is a very positive addition to the America’s Cup,” said Commercial Commissioner Harvey Schiller. “The Japanese challenge will increase interest in the America’s Cup across Asia which is good news for all of our teams and partners.”