Delivery of AC45s testing boat to mark next stage of development program
SoftBank Team Japan will take delivery of their first AC45S in December and according to sailing team manager and tactician Chris Draper, the sailors can’t wait to put the turbocharged race yacht through it’s paces.
Draper and his crew will take delivery of the first AC45S test boat that ORACLE TEAM USA built and had been using as a training platform this summer.
“Being able to sail our own AC45S test boat really marks a significant step up in our development,” Draper said. “As a sailing team, up until now, we’ve been restricted to racing at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series events.
“Our plan is to take delivery of the new boat early in December. We’ll get it ready, make some adjustments, get our full sailing crew relocated here to Bermuda after the holiday break and start sailing in January.”
Draper says having access to the first development boat produced by ORACLE TEAM USA will make the team competitive despite its late start as a new team.
“Getting a jump start on our development is fundamental to being competitive on the water in 2017,” Draper said. “It’s a very similar model to what we did with Luna Rossa and Team New Zealand last time.”
As helmsman of the Italian Luna Rossa team in the last America’s Cup, Draper raced a boat built to a Kiwi design. The close training relationship between the teams then led to a strong bond between Draper and SoftBank Team Japan CEO and skipper Dean Barker that remains to this day.
“I learned a lot about Chris through working with him during the last America’s Cup so it was natural to reach out to him when we started building SoftBank Team Japan,” Barker explained.
“Looking forward, both of us know how important getting this AC45S boat is to our team. It really makes the challenge possible. By early January, our Bermuda base will be operational and we will be out training with our sailing team on the Great Sound.”
Barker and Draper, along with General Manager Kazuhiko Sofuku, are currently in Japan overseeing crew tryouts with the aim of recruiting two Japanese crew members.