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New boat a significant development for Team Japan

A step up: Draper

SoftBank Team Japan will mark the next stage of their development programme whey they take delivery of their first wing-sail foiling AC45S catamaran next month.

The Japanese challenger will take ownership of Oracle Team USA’s first AC45S test boat, that the America’s Cup defender 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,” Chris Draper, the Team Japan sailing team manager and tactician, 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.

“Getting a jump start in our development is fundamental to being competitive on the water in 2017.”

The AC45S that Team Japan will use is a similar model to the boat Draper raced at the previous America’s Cup as helmsman of Luna Rossa Challenge built to a Kiwi design.

Along with Dean Barker, the Team Japan CEO and skipper, and Kazuhiko Sofuku, the Team Japan general manager, Draper is in Japan overseeing crew tryouts with the aim of recruiting two Japanese crew members.

The three-day selection process, which will be held near Tokyo from today until Sunday, will combine intense fitness testing and sailing exercises along with personal interviews.

Hundreds of Japanese athletes took part in the three-month application process, with professional ice hockey and basketball players joining top sailors and rowers in trying to make the team.

The group of 22 athletes will be narrowed down to just two, who will be invited to join the team.

All new team members will be expected to move to Team Japan’s base in Bermuda to live and train for the next two years.

“By early January, our Bermuda base will be operational and we will be out training with our sailing team on the Great Sound,” said Barker, who won the Louis Vuitton Cup as skipper of Emirates Team New Zealand at the previous America’s Cup.