South Korea has entered the America's Cup for the first time, one of two teams from Asia that will challenge for the oldest trophy in international sports in 2013 on San Francisco Bay.
Team Korea, representing the Sail Korea Yacht Club, will be known as the White Tiger Challenge.
Team Korea's founder is Dong Young-Kim, an accomplished sailor and the organizer of the Korea Match Cup, which has one of the biggest payouts in sailing.
"Now it is Korea's turn to enter this famous competition for the first time, at the start of what will prove to be one of the biggest changes the Cup has ever seen, with these new high-speed, radical, wing-sailed catamarans, designed to appeal beyond those already interested in sailing," Dong said in a statement. "This is a unique opportunity for us to create excitement around the sport in Korea and introduce newcomers to the events through the awe-inspiring TV images we expect to see."
An America's Cup World Series in 45-foot, wing-sailed catamarans will begin later this year with stops in Portugal, England and San Diego. A 72-foot version of the fast catamaran will debut in the second season of the ACWS beginning in August 2012. The 72-footers will be used in the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series in San Francisco in 2013 and the America's Cup match.
The fixed-wing sails will replace traditional soft-sail rigs. Oracle Racing used a radical wing sail on its 90-by-90-foot trimaran in the 2010 America's Cup and routed Alinghi of Switzerland in two races to return the America's Cup to the United States. The wing improved the trimaran's acceleration and maneuverability.
A total of 15 teams from 12 countries have entered the 34th America's Cup, including 14 challengers and defender Oracle Racing.
Team Korea becomes the ninth challenger accepted, along with two teams each from France and Italy and one each from China, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand. There are three additional challengers that have yet to announce and two more that are in the process of having their paperwork vetted.
"As a new team we do not have the experience and legacy of others involved, and so we are realistic about building together a group of people for this challenge and setting ourselves sensible targets with our first competitive challenge," Dong said. "We see this America's Cup campaign as a learning experience which we can build on for the future, while improving through the regatta series this year."