America’s Cup veteran Dean Barker, 43, has been named CEO and skipper of Softbank Team Japan. Announced in late April, the team is funded by Japan’s richest man, Softbank boss Masayoshi Son. They will receive basic design assistance from Oracle Team USA. Barker aims to have the team fully independent by the end of 2015. They will probably establish their base directly in Bermuda.
Barker was in Bermuda in May and sailed on Oracle’s AC45x “Sport” with his former nemesis Jimmy Spithill. “Being on the 45 with the Oracle guys was fantastic. The boats are just fantastic for the size of the venue,” enthused Barker.
Kazuhiko Sofuku, known as “Fuku,” will be the team’s general manager. Fuku sailed with Japan’s America’s Cup challenge in Auckland in 2000.
The team will make their debut at the America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth in late July. Just as Ben Ainslie Racing relied on Oracle sailors in the America’s Cup World Series in 2012 and 2013, Softbank Team Japan is likely to have a few Oracle sailors on board in Portsmouth in July and Gothenburg in August. They are aiming to have the team fully independent and operational by the end of 2015.