© Matt Knighton


SoftBank Team Japan raced their new America’s Cup Class race boat Hikari for the first time during the practice racing this past Sunday on the Great Sound in Bermuda.

Though unable to compete in the previous week’s racing due to repairs to a rudder following a collision with an unidentified floating object, the four races run were a promising base line for the Japanese challenger, with the team winning two of their four races. 

Skipper and CEO Dean Barker said the team was very satisfied with the performance design of the newly christened race boat.

“It was great to do the first racing in the ACC against the four other teams who are here in Bermuda. We had observed the other races to try and get a feel for how everyone is stacking up but it’s always nice to line up on the water. The conditions we saw on Sunday were tough – all teams were racing out of range of the dagger boards they were testing – it creates it’s own challenges where all the teams were trying to keep the boats foiling and maneuver well.

“We came away very satisfied with the performance of the boat – especially in light of not having raced the entire week.

“The race against Artemis especially was quite a good race – we had a large lead around the top mark and then missed a few maneuvers to give them the lead but overall really happy with our performance the rest of the race.

“From what we can tell, our speed looks promising. There’s not a lot difference at all between Oracle Team USA, Artemis, and ourselves. It’s good to not be miles off the pace at this stage of the competition. Still, to see how teams fair once they install their light air or second set of boards – that will be the next telling piece of information.

“We’ve got a heap of new hardware turning up soon. It’s a typical ‘Cup’ situation to be in with a lot of things arriving with only 60 days out from the start of racing. From what we’re learning each day, it gives us more confidence in the things we’ve been developing and those pieces turning up will be a good step on again.

"At the same time we know that it’s one of those ‘ever changing landscapes’ where if you’re not better than the day before, you’re going to get passed. It’s that constant challenge of trying to better ourselves each day.”

Only 59 days are left until the start of the America’s Cup Qualifiers – the first round of racing in SoftBank Team Japan’s quest to be the first Japanese challenger to win the America’s Cup. 

Unofficial results (won-lost):

Oracle Team USA 9-2

Artemis Racing 7-3

SoftBank Team Japan 2-2

Land Rover BAR 2-8

Groupama Team France 1-6