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America's Cup: Iain Murray appointed Regatta Director for third Cup

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz 30 Apr 2020 21:29 PDT 1 May 2020
The Big Fella, Iain Murray in high demand from the media before stepping on board Wild Oats XI. © Rolex / Stefano Gattini

Iain Murray (AUS) has been appointed Regatta Director for the 36th America's Cup to be staged on the Waitemata harbour. The 36th America's Cup will be the third time he has held the role, in an event where he has also participated as a skipper and designer.

Murray also spans the 12 Metre, IACC and Multihull eras of the America's Cup from 1983 to 2017.

For Murray, it will be a return to the place where he made his first marks on the international sailing scene, with two notable wins.

The first was as a 17-year-old student where he designed, built and sailed a 12ft skiff, Sunset Hotels, to win the 1976 Interdominion 12ft skiff title on his second attempt from a fleet of 24 boats from Australia and New Zealand.

He returned a year later for the JJ Giltinan Trophy, the unofficial world championship of the 18ft skiff class.

Again he skippered a boat that he had designed and built himself, for his second tilt at the prestigious trophy.

Going into the final race of the series Australian veteran Dave Porter sailing KB, looked to have done enough to take the title, rounding the final mark, Rough Rock, with a lead of over five minutes.

Sailing in a 25-30kt onshore breeze, in a very awkward wind against tide sea state, Murray helming sailing Colour 7 called for the spinnaker, which eventually set, and with his crew stacked in the stern of the red hulled skiff, pointed directly at the finish line barely visible in the cyclonic murk and rain.

Race leader KB having taken a conservative course, tried to gybe in an awkward corner of the course, constricted by reefs and shallow water.

Fortune favoured the brave, and Murray cut the corner, on the hapless KB, worked around North Head and ran straight to the finish line to snatch the title with a brilliant exhibition of boat handling.

That victory was the first of six successive wins in the JJ Giltinan Trophy for Murray and Colour 7. In 2008 staying with the same sponsor, Murray was the program manager for the Seve Jarvin skippered Gotta Love it 7 team which went on to win seven JJ Giltinan trophies between 2008 and 2015.

Murray sailed his first America's Cup in 1983 in the 12-metre Advance, before being wining the Australian Defence Trials in 1987 in Kookaburra - which was defeated by Dennis Conner in Stars & Stripes '87.

He was aboard One Australia when it sank in the 1995 America's Cup.

In 2008 Murray represented Australia at the Qingdao Olympic Regatta in the Star class finishing 14th.

He was Etchells World Champion in 1984 and 2019.

An experienced offshore competitor and designer, Murray has been an integral part of the Wild Oats XI campaign since its launch in 2005, to the present day, winning line honours nine times in the classic Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Murray has a long association with the Oatley family who challenged for the 2017 America's Cup through their Hamilton Island Yacht Club. After HIYC withdrew in July 2014, Murray was re-appointed to the position of Regatta Director for the 2017 America's Cup in Bermuda - having acted in the same role for the 2013 America's Cup in San Francisco.

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