March 6, 2014 / 1:37 AM / in 4 years

Sailing-Belcher to skipper Australian America's Cup challenge

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Olympic sailing champion Mathew Belcher has been named skipper of America’s Cup challenger Team Australia.

Australia's Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page pose with their gold medals for the men's 470 sailing class at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Weymouth and Portland, southern England, August 10, 2012. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener

The 31-year-old, who won gold in the 470 dinghy class at the London Games, will take the helm in his America’s Cup debut against defender Oracle Team USA.

Team Australia represent Challenger of Record Hamilton Island Yacht Club, owned by Australian wine tycoon and sailing enthusiast Bob Oatley.

The Challenger of Record will help shape the rules and format for the 35th America’s Cup, which is slated for August 2017 in San Francisco Bay.

Oatley and his son Sandy issued the challenge to the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) minutes after software billionaire Larry Ellison’s Team USA beat Team New Zealand in September after coming back from 8-1 down in the regatta.

Australia is trying to win the ‘Auld Mug’ for the first time since ‘Australia II‘s’ 1983 triumph, which broke a 132-year reign by New York Yacht Club.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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