Two-time Olympic gold medalist Iain Percy will take over the lead of the Artemis Racing America’s Cup team as it plans for the next edition of the 162-year-old regatta, team owner Torbjorn Tornqvist said.
Percy, who led the on-water crew as skipper during this year’s Cup campaign, will take the title of team manager and succeed Paul Cayard, the team’s chief executive officer, after the current Cup ends, Tornqvist said today in a telephone interview from Geneva.
Emirates Team New Zealand is leading Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team USA 4-0 in the regatta’s final series with two races scheduled for today in San Francisco.
“Iain is one of those people who never seeks leadership, but people ask him for it and that’s very unique,” Tornqvist said. “Iain has that charisma and that personality -- he earns it somehow.”
Artemis was eliminated from the Louis Vuitton Challenger series last month by the Italian Luna Rossa team backed by Prada SpA Chief Executive Officer Patrizio Bertelli. Tornqvist’s team competed after a May training accident that killed Andrew Simpson, Percy’s Olympic partner and longtime friend who won gold and silver medals with him at the 2008 and 2012 Games.
Tornqvist, whose 44 percent stake in the commodities trader Gunvor Group Ltd gives him a net worth of $3.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, said the racing campaign convinced him to take on a greater role in team operations. The 59-year-old said he also felt it was important to keep a core group of sailors to build around, particularly Percy, 37, and helmsman Nathan Outteridge, the 27-year-old Australian who won the gold medal sailing 49er class skiffs at 2012 Olympics.
“He can drive anything,” Tornqvist said of Outteridge. “We’re going to have a core of people from the existing team and see what happens with the next Cup before we go on.”
New Zealand can take the Cup with nine victories; Oracle needs 11 because of a penalty related to rules violations in preliminary competition.
Tornqvist said reaching the starting line became his team’s primary goal after the wreck that killed Simpson and destroyed their 72-foot catamaran. After the Italians won the fourth and decisive race in August, he climbed onto the boat and embraced an emotional Percy.
“I think we all felt pride in what we achieved in our own way,” Tornqvist said. “It was an emotional moment for Iain and myself. We had lost. We were out. But we had done what was possible.”