Thursday, 14 July 2011

America's Cup : Team Korea Announces Top Class Crew to Compete in America's Cup

Left to right: Top, Chris Draper, skipper; Chris Brittle, Float; Troy Tindall, Wing Trimmer; Matt Cornwell, bow; Mark Bulkeley, trim. Image copyright Team Korea

by Clifford Webb

Team Korea today announced a top class crew chosen to sail in the America’s Cup World series events, opting for a blend of experience and raw talent that includes multiple World and European Champions, and seasoned Olympic and America’s Cup campaigners.

Headlining the crew as Skipper and Helmsman as announced last week is Britain’s Chris Draper, who has guided Team Korea’s selection in order to maximise their skill and familiarity with each other, which he believes will enable the team to quickly gel and be up to speed with the powerful and lightning quick AC45 yachts.

Chris said, "I’m delighted with the team we’ve brought together, as I feel we have just the right mix of talent, know-how, the weight we wanted, and of course a super-high level of professionalism. I couldn’t be happier in being able to help pull everyone together into what should become a very efficient, fast and successful unit."

Team Korea Crew
Skipper/Helm Chris Draper, UK
Wing Trimmer Troy Tindill, New Zealand
Float Chris Brittle, UK
Trim Mark Bulkeley, UK
Bow Matt Cornwell, UK

Leaning heavily on the skippers sailing background in selecting a mainly British crew, Team Korea CEO Kim Dong-Young commented, "we thought it was important to allow Chris to make recommendations for the crew where he felt he could achieve the fastest learning curve and translate that into performance on the water. We had an excellent group of people to choose our skipper from and we’re grateful to everyone who expressed their interest, but I am very pleased with Chris who has already shown that he is reliable, thorough and very dedicated. It was his first visit to Seoul last week, and he coped admirably with everything that came his way. Korean’s are loyal people and friendship is important in our culture, so we are pleased he has turned to his former colleagues who have an impressive track record in the sport – this shows both confidence and loyalty in making these difficult decisions."

Troy Tindill from New Zealand is presently the only member of the crew to have sailed an AC45, having worked with ACRM as a Boat Captain most recently, and has been helming the America’s Cup yacht in training sessions. At 28 years old, he’s an accomplished sailor having competed in world youth match racing regattas and the world tour proper. He’s also been the boat Captain for the successful Wild Oats X and XI for the past six-years, recording five Sydney-Hobart race wins, and is the current record holder for the race. He’s an offshore sailor too and competed in Maxi’s for many years before joining ACRM where he’s been responsible for the AC45’s since the initial launch and sea trials. Troy said, "having sailed these yachts for most of the year, I am keen to get into a competitive environment and sail them under real pressure. I think Chris and I can work well together and get the boat going pretty quickly – I like his style and approach. It’s going to be quite a first race, I can’t wait."

Joining as trimmer, Mark Bulkeley (32) sailed alongside Draper for two years in their Extreme Sailing series campaign with Oman Sail Masirah, which culminated in them winning the World Championship in 2009, so is delighted to be making his America’s Cup debut in the new style catamarans, "ever since the America’s Cup made the move to multi-hulls, I have been excited about the prospect of getting involved, and so to join Team Korea is a dream opportunity, and I’m sure my time sailing with Chris will be a huge benefit" he commented. Mark has sailed Tornado’s for Britain at the Olympics, been part of the Team GBR squad for eight years, and in the top flight of catamaran and other disciplines for the past ten years, taking Silver at the ISAF World Championships. He was also on the winning Oman Sail Masirah yacht in the Extreme Asia series last year with three first places.

The float role goes to big Chris Brittle (29) whose weight and size are perfect for the position. No stranger to top class sailing, he was the training partner to Ben Ainslie through the 2004 Olympics, then joined the +39 America’s Cup team as a grinder for the next three years, racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup in Valencia. He then became a sailing coach, starting out with Ian Percy and Andrew Simpson in the Star Class for the 2008 Olympics, while joining the AudiMed Cup circuit with the Portuguese TP52 Team, a period that may bear fruits in the waters off Cascais in the coming weeks. From there he joined Team Origin, racing in the LV events and the MedCup, finishing 4th overall last year. Chris said, "I think sailing these yachts is going to be pretty demanding as the action appears to be non-stop, but it should prove really exciting, and with a lot of new teams on a level playing ground, it gives us a great opportunity to excel."

On the Bow is Matt Cornwell (37), a veteran of three AC campaigns and with an enviable track record in the sport. He said, "I’m excited to be joining a new team for a new era in the Cup, one that I think we can be quickly competitive in. I am looking forward to analysing how the boats perform at speed and what the extra demands may be." In his career he’s competed on everything from TP52’s to the Extreme circuit, finishing 2nd overall in 2008 with Team Origin. He’s sailed Louis Vuitton events, Maxis, offshore races, the Admiral’s Cup and has many years match racing behind him, winning the Match Racing World Tour last year with Ainslie’s team. Matt is a highly respected sailor, quietly and calmly dealing with every situation on the boat, while earning a reputation as a fearsome competitor.

Kim Dong-Young said, "I believe this is a strong team with huge potential. We have chosen carefully, mixing together different talents, skills and experience from amongst the many people who were interested to join the team. We certainly want to bring in Korean sailors in as we progress onto the AC72’s, and will begin training them soon, but this selection gives us the greatest opportunity to learn fast without too many risks, yet has the possibility to be very competitive we feel. It will be very interesting to see how we evolve and grow together now with the challenges ahead as we begin training, and then move to that very first exciting race in Cascais. We’re looking forward to it. Kamsahamnida."

Team Korea is scheduled to begin training on July 16th in Lisbon, before moving to Cascais towards the end of the month ahead of the America’s Cup World Series regatta beginning on August 6th.

About Team Korea

Team Korea is the newest nation to enter the America’s Cup, representing the Sail Korea Yacht Club based in Seoul. Fondly known as the ‘White Tiger Challenge’, the White Tiger is a revered and ancient Guardian God of the west, the only god based on a living creature, a potent and powerful beast. The team recently hosted a visit of the America’s Cup trophy in Seoul for the first time in history, courtesy of Brooks Brothers Korea. The prestigious Louis Vuitton Cup was also presented to the press at the same time in Seoul on a very significant day in the continued development of Team Korea.

Team Korea
America's Cup