British sailor Chris Draper, an Olympic medalist, multiple European and World champion, and America’s Cup helmsman, is joining SoftBank Team Japan as sailing director and will race with team CEO and skipper Dean Barker at the first Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event in Portsmouth, UK, in July. He said Barker will be on the helm when racing starts; Draper will be in a tactics/wing trimmer role.
“Dean and I spent a lot of time racing against each other in New Zealand during the build up to the last America’s Cup and developed a mutual respect for each other,” Draper said. “When Dean approached me with an offer to join this team it was clear this was a unique opportunity to build something new.”
Draper is a world champion in the Olympic 49er class and won a Bronze Medal at the 2004 Olympic Games. He sailed with Team Korea during the America’s Cup World Series in 2011. He was helmsman for the Luna Rossa Challenge to the challenger finals in the last contest but fell to Barker’s New Zealand team.
Luna Rossa has announced it will not compete in the 35th America’s Cup, to be held in Bermuda in 2017.
“Getting the team off the ground so quickly has been a whirlwind,” Draper said. “I think we’re all looking forward to getting on the water and lining up against the other teams for the first time and just thinking about sailing for a few days.”