Austrians Roman Hagara and Hans-Peter Steinacher, double Olympic Gold medalists in the Tornado catamaran, have entered the upcoming America's Cup World Series Naples, scheduled from April 16-21.
The duo will sail under the banner HS Racing and race under the US flag in partnership with ORACLE TEAM USA.
HS Racing is one of nine crews entered in the regatta, which will also feature America's Cup World Series leader ORACLE TEAM USA, second-placed Luna Rossa Piranha, third-placed Artemis Racing White, J.P. Morgan BAR, Energy Team, Emirates Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa Swordfish and China Team.
"It is a dream come true for us,"
said Hagara, 46, whose aim, along with tactician Steinacher and their crew is a top placing at the final event of the 2012-13 AC World Series season.
HS Racing's crew also includes trimmer Herve Cunningham of France, bowman Graeme Spence of Australia and floater David Swete of New Zealand.
"We trained on the AC45 back in February in San Francisco and felt very good from the start,"
said Steinacher, 44. "The boat is extremely difficult to handle at strong winds and it develops unbelievable forces, but we are happy to take on the challenge."
Hagara and Steinacher were Gold medalists at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games. They are also the sports directors for the Red Bull Youth America's Cup, scheduled from September 1-4 in San Francisco, USA.
"It's great to have Roman and Hans-Peter involved,"
said ORACLE TEAM USA CEO Russell Coutts. "They aim to be serious competitors and this is a great platform to launch their America's Cup aspirations."
Familiar names are lining up for the final AC World Series event, with sailors such as Dean Barker of Emirates Team New Zealand, Francesco Bruni and Chris Draper of Luna Rossa, Yann Guichard of Energy Team and Tom Slingsby of ORACLE TEAM USA scheduled to compete. Sweden's Artemis Racing will be helmed by 23-year-old Charlie Ekberg, Sweden's top 49er sailor and skipper of Artemis Racing/Swedish Youth Challenge for the Red Bull Youth America's Cup. The Naples event will also feature the return of Mitch Booth to the helm of China Team, while Ben Ainslie will skipper his J.P. Morgan BAR team.
Team Korea, previously an America's Cup World Series participant and Louis Vuitton Cup entrant, has withdrawn from further competition in the 34th America's Cup. In a letter to the Golden Gate Yacht Club, the team indicated it has plans to enter the 35th America's Cup.
Last year's AC World Series Naples drew crowds estimated at 500,000, who were there in part to catch the debut of Luna Rossa Challenge 2013. Draper led his Luna Rossa Piranha crew to a thrilling win in the final fleet race. The victory kicked off celebrations among the tens of thousands of Italian America's Cup fans lining the Naples waterfront to catch a glimpse of their heroes.
The conditions were as varied as any venue on the AC World Series. The fleet race finale was held in light wind and turned into a drifter at the finish. That occurred just two days after big wind and waves saw the AC45s powered up and leaping from the wave tops.