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Defender accepts Australian club’s America’s Cup challenge

The Australia-based Hamilton Island Yacht Club challenged for the 35th America’s Cup and was accepted by the Golden Gate Yacht Club, the defender and trustee of the world’s oldest sporting trophy.

For the last three decades, the Hamilton Island Yacht Club has run Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, which has become the largest annual regatta in Australia, with 200 offshore yachts competing in recent years.

The club is led by Australian winemaker and sailing legend Bob Oatley, whose succession of yachts named Wild Oats have been involved in ocean racing in Australia for years and have won six of the last eight Sydney-Hobart races. An Australian team that Oatley led won the last Admiral’s Cup, widely regarded as the world’s top prize in ocean racing.

The challenge was filed by Oatley and his son, Sandy, on behalf of the Hamilton Island Yacht Club shortly after Oracle Team USA won the deciding final race in the 34th America’s Cup against Emirates Team New Zealand Sept. 25 on San Francisco Bay.

“We are delighted to have Hamilton Island Yacht Club and the Oatleys leading Australia back into the America’s Cup for the first time since 2000,” Golden Gate Yacht Club vice commodore and America’s Cup liaison Tom Ehman said in a statement. “Hamilton Island’s challenge was filed on the day Australia was celebrating the 30th anniversary of Australia II’s historic win in the 1983 America’s Cup off Newport, R.I., which ended New York Yacht Club’s 132-year reign as the Cup’s defender.”

“Given Australia’s previous success in the America’s Cup, the Admiral’s Cup and Olympic yachting, and as proud Australians, we think it is time for our nation to be back in our sport’s pinnacle event,” Oatley said. “The recently completed America’s Cup in San Francisco has revolutionized the sport for sailors and fans, and we were excited to see how many Australians played key roles on the teams and in the regatta organization.”

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