Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Green Team has been confirmed as the seventh entry in the 2008-09 race

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] The boat, designed by Reichel Pugh and in build at McConaghy Boats in China, will be skippered by British Olympian Ian Walker.

The team’s participation is twinned with a race stopover in the west Irish port of Galway. Green Team have secured initial funding from a combination of private investment (led by a project board which includes John Kileen, Enda O’Coineen, Eamon Conneely and Jamie Boag as Team CEO), commercial sponsorship and government backing.

“To be able to announce Ian Walker as skipper and show we have a framework in place for a competitive entry if fantastic,” Boag said.

Walker will oversee both the design and build programme along with crew selection.

“Everybody I have spoken to enthuses about these boats and this race,” he said. “I have not looked forward to going sailing so much for a long time. Many people will see me as a predominately inshore sailor, but you would have said the same about Torben Grael before the last race.

“You have to keep learning new things and pushing yourself in order to progress. I want a new challenge and offshore sailing is arguably the biggest growth area of our sport.”

Walker, though making his round-the-world debut at the age of 37, has world-class sailing credentials.

He won two Olympic silver medals for Great Britain in the 470s (Atlanta, 1996) and the Star Class (Sydney, 2000). He was also personal coach to Shirley Robertson’s Olympic gold medal-winning Yngling team in Athens in 2004.

Walker was skipper and helmsman of GBR Challenge in the 2002-2003 America’s Cup in Auckland and was tactician with the Italian entry +39 in Valencia in 2007. He has also been at the helm of the Irish entry Patches in the highly-competitive TP52 series for the past three years.

The build of the Green Team Volvo Open 70 is well underway. The moulds are completed and the hull lamination has begun. Reichel Pugh and the structural engineers at Applied Structural Analysis Ltd (ASTA) are working on all the drawings to a strict timescale. The deck plan is progressing as is the sail plan. The rig is under design and the team have completed their first sail wind tunnel testing in Auckland New Zealand. The aim is to have the boat commissioned in June 2008.

“I am pleased with the design and build team we have put in place and the progress made to date,” Walker said. “Reichel Pugh have had great success in ocean racing, even though this will be their first Volvo project. They were the designers behind Alfa Romeo and Wild Oats; two of the most successful and fastest canting keel offshore racing yachts on the planet.”

Glenn Bourke, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race said: “It is fabulous to have another super-professional team skippered by an Olympic medalist entered in the race. After months of knowing about this team, it is wonderful that it is now formally announced. Ian Walker is a high profile skipper who will put together a professional campaign.

“We now have a fleet of seven boats, the same number as the previous iteration of the race, but higher still in caliber. We can never predict whether the numbers might increase, but with the possible postponement of the America’s Cup there are now a couple of possibilities.”



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