America’s Cup winner keen on Oatley challenge

03/05/2011 - Auckland (NZL) - 34th America's Cup - AC45 Test Event - Day 8 - John Bertrand
© Gilles Martin-Raget
The skipper of the first challenger to win the America’s Cup, Australian John Bertrand, has told the Sydney Morning Herald he is excited by the newest antipodean challenge for the Cup.

''There's no one better in this country,” Bertrand said, speaking about Bob and Sandy Oatley, the father and son pair behind the Australian challenge from Hamilton Island Yacht Club. “The interesting thing is that [until now] Bob has never really professed interest in throwing his hat into the America's Cup. But this is a new world.”

Bertrand says he’s willing to help the effort in any way he can and cautions the task may be daunting. The Oatleys, he says, “must create a world-best organisation. Nothing less will do. You have no control over the opposition.

“The level we saw was jaw-dropping on San Francisco Bay. In three or four years, it will be at another level.”

Australia is well-positioned to make a strong challenge, with Australian sailors playing key roles on several syndicates in the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco this summer.

Jimmy Spithill, Kyle Langford and Tom Slingsby were in glamor roles on board the defender, ORACLE TEAM USA, while multihull ace Glenn Ashby was a key performer for Emirates Team New Zealand.

And there’s more talent to pull from, with Australia’s deep Olympic sailing squad.

"For the first time our Olympic sailors have relevance to the America's Cup,'' Bertrand says. “High-performance America's Cup is directly relevant to the high-performance element of the Olympic Games which is like the 49ers; whereas before you had to have a whole bunch of grey hair before you had a chance at the America's Cup. It is a wonderful development for young people to develop a sustainable career.”

Australia’s Hamilton Island Yacht Club is the challenger of record for the 35th America’s Cup.

Read the full story here.