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Japanese Challenge Names Australian as Skipper

TOKYO, Japan (Feb. 10, 1997) — Australia's Peter Gilmour, a top-ranked match-race sailor and veteran America's Cup skipper, has been named as sailing director and skipper of Japan's Nippon Challenge. The announcement was expected, because Gilmour has been sailing with the Nippon team in recent grand-prix regattas.

America's Cup rules require foreign nationals to establish residency in the country for which they are sailing three years prior to the start of the America's Cup match in Auckland, New Zealand. Gilmour has until Feb. 26 to change his residence from Australia to Japan.

"We are very pleased to have Peter on board," said Tatsumitsu Yamasaki, Nippon Challenge chairman. "The selection has been based on Peter's outstanding sense of sailing skill, leadership and personality. He is well respected by Japanese crew members and I am determined that, together with our previous experience, Peter will lead us to victory."

"I'm very excited to join Nippon Challenge and to be a part of the Japanese effort for the America's Cup," Gilmour said. "The team has learned from past success, as well as failures, how to go about the business of the America's Cup. The team has a strong infrastructure for this third attempt and certainly, a great opportunity to achieve the ultimate objective of winning the America's Cup."

This is not only the third attempt by the Nippon Challenge at winning the America's Cup. This is also the third time the notoriouly nationalistic Japanese have had a non-Japanese skipper. In 1992, New Zealand's Chris Dickson was at the helm, and in 1995, Kiwi John Cutler took the helm.

Gilmour was the head coach in Japan's 1995 challenge, but was prohibited from competing because he did not meet the residency requirement, which at that time was two years.

Gilmour is participating in his fourth America's Cup competition. In the 1987 Australian defense, Gilmour was the skipper of defender Kookaburra |, which lost to Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes. In 1992, he teamed up with Iain Murray in the under-funded Spirit of Australia challenge.

The 37-year-old Perth native is one of the best sailors in the world, and was the top-ranked match-racer in 1995.

The Japanese racing yacht will be developed and designed by the Nippon Challenge Technical Committee, headed by Professor Hideaki Miyata of Tokyo University (Department of Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering), and will incorporate Japan's leading ocean engineering and fluid dynamics technology.

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