Friday, September 14, 2007

Team Origin presents line-up; Ben Ainslie to be helmsman/skipper

[Source: Team Origin] Sir Keith Mills and Mike Sanderson presented the sailing, design, shore and management teams at the core of TEAMORIGIN, Britain’s challenge for the 33rd America’s Cup.

At the Southampton International Boat Show today TEAMORIGIN’s Sir Keith Mills and Mike Sanderson, Team Principal and Team Director respectively, announced a roll call of British and international sailing, design, boatbuilding and management talent. This group will take TEAMORIGIN towards its ultimate goal of winning the America’s Cup, the oldest sporting trophy in the world, sailing’s Holy Grail and the only major sports trophy Britain has yet to win.

“This is a British challenge. At least 50% of our team is British. The funding is British, the flag is British, the race boats will be built in Britain, GBR will appear on the mainsail of every one of our racing yachts,” said Sir Keith.

TEAMORIGIN is a new team, but 70% of the line-up have previous America’s Cup experience at the highest level. Four members of the team are past America’s Cup winners, five are round the world race winners and two are recent Olympic gold medallists. Ten countries are currently represented and more than half of the team is British-born.

“This is a modern team, diverse in its origins but already solidly thinking as one group with one aim - to ultimately win the America’s Cup for Britain,” explained Team Director Mike Sanderson.

Britain’s Challenge for the next America’s Cup will be led on the water by triple Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie OBE.

“This is a fantastic challenge and I am really honoured to be in the position of leading a sailing team which I believe has the ability to go out and win the America’s Cup. We now all need to get on with the huge amount of work that lies ahead of us,” said Skipper Ben Ainslie.

Sailing, a mechanised sport, and the America’s Cup, a design and technology-led competition, means that TEAMORIGIN will require a powerful and experienced design office. This will be lead by Briton Andy Claughton, Argentinean Juan Kouyoumdjian, and German Mickey Ickert, all highly experienced with complimentary talents in the refined fields of America’s Cup yacht design.

“I’ve been involved in designing and testing America’s Cup yachts since the 1980s, a period which has spanned three different types of yacht, five different venues and many different teams. Heading into a new era involving a fourth new class, but this time for a powerful British team, is really stimulating for me personally,” said Design Co-ordinator Andrew Claughton.

To be held in 2009 in Valencia, Spain, preparations for the 33rd America’s Cup are picking up pace around the world and a huge amount of interest in TEAMORIGIN’s make-up will be expressed by the five other teams currently entered.

“I’m particularly excited that we have been able to recruit the people to tackle the task. I believe that with the group presented today TEAMORIGIN has the talent resources necessary to design, sail, maintain and manage a world class America’s Cup team,” said Sir Keith.

TEAMORIGIN is a commercially-led team and one that will run on a mixture of private and sponsor funding.

“I’m also happy to announce that Charles Dunstone has decided to join me as a partner in financing this project, something that I believe lends enormous credibility to the seriousness of this campaign.”

As a keen amateur sailor and one of Britain’s leading businessmen Charles Dunstone has a strong personal interest in TEAMORIGIN as many members of his crew from previous campaigns have joined the team.

“I believe it is really important that Great Britain, the origin of the Cup, is represented competitively at this level. I believe that with the team that Keith and Mike have put together we can win. Consequently I have decided to lend my full personal support,” explained Charles Dunstone.

“The modern European America’s Cup competition has created an opportunity that hasn’t existed before. It is now possible to run a commercially viable team at this level. We have the best design, sailing, financial and management talent of a generation available to us. Never before has a British team had all the ingredients necessary for success at the same time. As a result we can compete at the America’s Cup in a manner that no previous British challenge has done before,” concluded Sir Keith.

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