China Team, the Chinese challenger for the 34th America’s Cup, has rung the changes in its sailing team for the second round of the America's Cup World Series, due to get underway on 10 September in Plymouth, England.
After the conclusion of the first round of the ACWS, skipper Mitch Booth, who had been with the team since its first sail in Auckland, left the team in unexplained circumstances. Booth (AUS) is a multiple world champion in catamaran classes and an Olympic Bronze and Silver medalist in the Multihull (Tornado) event.
He has since joined the TV commentary team for the second round of the ACWS.
The China Team have announced that Charlie Ogletree (USA) will take over from Booth as China Team’s Skipper. Charlie has been with China Team since its start, in the role of tactician.
Ogletree also has a strong catamaran sailing record being an Olympic Silver medalist (2004), and a competitor in five Olympics. He was runner-up Rolex Yachtsman of the Year in Olympic Racing (2005), and holds many other world titles as well. Ogletree along with crew John Lovell are perhaps best remembered for flying the Code Zero on the Tornado catamaran in the 2008 Olympics.
Also announced as joining the China Team is Andreas Hagara (AUT), who will take on the role of helmsman. He is the brother of Extreme 40 competitor and double Olympic Gold medallist, Ramon Hagara. The team's announcement says that Ogletree and Andreas Hagara have a long history of working together, and that Andreas brings with him his extensive multihull proven skills, as a World Champion, European Champion and World Champion bronze medalist as recently as 2010.
Ogletree and Hagara will be training in Plymouth from 1 September with the rest of the China Team, including a number of Chinese potentials who are under trial and training to become core members of China Team come 2013.
Thierry Barot, CEO of China Team says that the challenge ahead of China Team is to ensure that the team achieves its goal to be a truly Chinese challenger by 2013, powered by mainly Chinese sailors.
'Our challenge throughout the next 18 months will be to place well in the World Series but also train the Chinese sailors. Unlike all our competitors, China Team's race practices are split in half to enable the training of the Chinese sailors at the same time. We will have it no other way, and will continue with our ambition on this path.
'We will be fine-tuning this process in Plymouth and continue to improve on it at every opportunity', he added. 'Our ambition is to build a Chinese team capable of winning the America’s Cup, and that is what we are doing'.