Wild Oats crew pose with their trophy after winning the line honours in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race at Constitution Dock in Hobart last December.
Wild Oats crew pose with their trophy after winning the line honours in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race at Constitution Dock in Hobart last December. Heath Holden

Hamilton Island plans America's Cup tilt

HAMILTON Island wants to do what Australia II did 30 years ago and win the coveted America's Cup.

And just like the mystery surrounding Australia II's winged keel, there are few details yet being divulged on the latest challenge from the Whitsundays.

Hamilton Island Yacht Club's (HIYC) America's Cup Challenger of Record application was accepted the same week that Australia II won the Cup 30 years earlier.

Immediately after Aussie skipper James Spithill steered Oracle Team USA to victory against the Kiwis, Bob Oatley and his son Sandy lodged HIYC's bid to challenge the US powerhouse for the 35th America's Cup.

It will take months of deliberation between the Oatley family and the defenders over race protocol before the HIYC team can be formed.

Hamilton Island chief executive Glenn Bourke, a three-time America's Cup challenger himself, said it was likely a new boat would be built and expected the Americans would prefer to "continue with the catamarans given the excitement they produced this year".

But the monohull was another likely choice. Mr Bourke isn't ruling out trying to secure the services of Spithill, the man behind one of the greatest come-from-behind wins in sporting history.

"If the defender wants it to be a national team event, then I'd think we'd probably agree to that," he said. "Clearly, then, somebody of the performance of Jimmy Spithill would be great to have. What the team will be looking for is to find the best sailors within Australia and around the world, depending on what the protocol says."

Bourke also refused to rule out getting out on the water again.

"Whether they want me on the boat I don't know, I might be getting a bit long in the tooth for that."

Key protocol to be determined during talks between the two teams includes the type of yacht and race site.



HAMILTON Island Yacht Club's challenge for the 35th America's Cup is expected to be a boost for the Whitsundays.

Chief executive officer of Whitsundays Marketing and Development Danial Rochford said it was a major announcement for the region.

"By challenging for the America's Cup this will foist Hamilton Island and the Whitsundays onto the world stage," Mr Rochford said.

"The potential for the Whitsundays in leveraging of an international event of such significance is enormous and will raise the profile of the Whitsundays as a world-class sailing destination."

Hamilton Island chief executive officer Glenn Bourke said the announcement had already generated a lot of excitement for the residents and the guests of the island.

"If you win the right to host the America's Cup it is a huge boost ... The focus of the world's media is on those places," he said.



HAMILTON Island chief executive Glenn Bourke said there were three main criteria HIYC had to meet to apply to challenge for the America's Cup.

"It has to come from a yacht club that holds an event annually ... you have to have somebody who will underwrite it, which the Oatley family has, and then the defendant has to accept that lodge," he said.

Bourke said it was first in, best dressed when lodging the application.

He said three or four months' worth of discussions between the defender and the challenger would then determine the rules and regulations of the next America's Cup event.

He said the Oatley family had planned the bid for "quite some time".