Firstly, apologies to our readers - technology has cramped The Afterguard's style somewhat (we were unable to blog live from the show floor), and by now what we have to report will likely be general knowledge... However, few will have reported the team's vital statistics within touching distance of GBR75, so we'll press on regardless...
The Team presented to the world today left The Afterguard in no doubt of the serious intent within TEAMORIGIN. While personal preferences many vary, nobody could honestly deny that TEAMORIGIN have assembled a great team; the deck crew boast the experience of over 35 previous America's Cup campaigns, the design team over 20; & that's without considering experience of other sailing competitions. There's a strong British contingent, along with compatriots of the Team Director. Of obvious benefit is the cohesion present - many of the crew have sailed and worked together, most notably a number of the ABN-Amro team with which Mike Sanderson enjoyed such success.
The biggest surprise of the day came not with regard to crew - Sir Keith Mills has an Investor/Partner, Charles Dunstone of the Carphone Warehouse. This bolsters the financial foundations of TEAMORIGIN, making this no longer a single-benefactor operation. No announcements were made regarding official sponsors, but that isn't surprising considering the current legal status of the 33rd Cup. No doubt Charles' input will ensure a smooth ride for the team during the continuing financial odyssey while his enthusiasm for sailing will be welcomed.
Ben Ainslie is confirmed as Helmsman for the team. We spoke briefly with Ben at the show who confirmed that his TEAMORIGIN and Olympics commitments required very exacting organisation in 2008; more than his words, his focus & determination was palpable and might well explain at least some of his success on the water. We look forward to watching him help develop the TEAMORIGIN challenge.
Overall there was a strong sense of relief from the principle and backroom members of TEAMORIGIN that their component parts had now been publicly identified, and that the project was no longer a plan, but flesh and bones; almost as entertaining as watching GBR75 reaching furiously on the waters of Southampton was to watch the emotion the sight generated amongst the shore crew present - a lot had obviously been put into this day, and the team can feel justifiably proud of their performance; of course everything has yet to be achieved in competition, but they're off and running.
We at The Afterguard have frequently questioned the 33rd Protocol's issue concerning the Defender's inclusion in the challenger series; Former ACM man, Marcus Hutchinson (TEAMORIGIN's Director of External Affairs & Communications) advised us to carefully consider the implications of not just clause 11 (concerning the challenger regattas), but also the ambiguity contained within clause 12 (covering the 'defender series') leaving us with a final tantalising comment, "Watch this space".
Andy Claughton confirmed that he would be flying to Valencia for a September 15th meeting concerning the new boat class, and was keen to see what was open to negotiation and how large the design box would be; of particular concern to him was the need to refine the design's incorporation of a sliding keel in the 12 months or so given to getting the 90' vessel sailing.
We were delighted that Sir Keith himself had a few moments to spare for us, during which he reflected with pride on the team he had assembled to undertake the challenges ahead; when asked to choose to define himself as either a hands-on or hands-off team principle, Sir Keith defined himself as the former, reflecting that he had selected talented individuals to concern themselves with the day to day running of things, while he was on hand to provide direction and support in any way he could.
Sir Keith Mills, Ben Ainslie, Charles Dunstone, Mike Sanderson
Team Principle: Sir Keith Mills - GBR
Partner & Investor: Charles Dunstone - GBR
Team Director: Mike Sanderson - NZL
Helmsman: Ben Ainslie - GBR (prev. Emirates Team New Zealand , One World Challenge )
Tactician: Iain Percy - GBR (prev. +39)
Strategist/Traveller: Rob Greenhalgh - GBR (Prev. ABN-Amro)
Navigator: Ian Moore - GBR (prev. Emirates Team New Zealand)
Aft Grinder/Strategist: Andrew Simpson - GBR (Prev. +39)
Mainsheet Trimmer: Neal McDonald - GBR (Prev. Victory Challenge , GBR Challenge , Sydney 95 ).
Trimmer: Robbie Naismith -NZL (Prev. BMW Oracle Racing [2007/2003], Team New Zealand [2000/1995], New Zealand Challenge )
Chris Brittle - GBR (Prev. +39)
David Carr - GBR (Prev. Victory Challenge , GBR Challenge )
Ian Weighell - GBR (Prev. Victory Challenge , GBR Challenge )
Pawel Bielecki - POL (Prev. +39)
Julien Cressant - FRA (Prev. BMW Oracle Racing , Le Defi Areva , 6' SENS Le Defi )
George Skuodas - GBR (Prev. Mascalzone , K-Challenge , GBR Challenge )
Mid Bowman: Kevin Batten - NZL (Prev. BMW Oracle [2007/2003], Tag Heuer , Spirit of Australia )
Justin Slattery - IRL (Prev. K-Challenge )
Matt Cornwell - GBR (Prev. Areva Challenge , GBR Challenge )
Boat Captain: Nick Bice - AUS (Prev. Young Australia )
Principle Design: Juan Kouyoumdjian - ARG, & his full office (of over 30 people) (Prev. BMW Oracle , Prada , Le Defi [2000/1995]; not in attendance as currently racing in the Star Europeans).
Design Coordinator: Andy Claughton - GBR (Prev. Emirates Team New Zealand)
Technical Director/Navigator: Stan Honey - USA (prev. ABN-Amro)
Aero Director: Mikey Ickert - DEU (Prev. BMW Oracle Racing)
Mast & Spars: Bruce Thompson - NZL (prev. Sparcraft)
CFD: Dr Rodrigo Azcueta - ARG
Performance VPP: Gonzalo Kouyoumdjian - ARG
Head of Structural Design: Andrea Avaldi - ITA
Shore Operations Director: David Duff - NZL
Head Of Boat Operations: Tim Hacket - USA
Boat Builder: Pete Britt - AUS, James Walker - GBR
Head of Tender Operations: Mike Heffer - NZL
Head of Sail Operations: Andrew Witherspoon - NZL
Sailmaker: Paul Gudgeon - GBR/NZL
Rigger: Ian Goldsworthy - GBR
Rig Components: Sid Barker - NZL
Head Chef: Henry Lynskey - NZL
Commercial Director: Nick Masson - GBR
Director of Marketing & Events: Leslie Ryan - IRL
Director of External Affairs & Communications: Marcus Hutchinson - IRL/GBR (prev. ACM)
Account Director: Jerry Hill - GBR
Account Director: Adam Walker - GBR
Account Director: Andy Green - GBR
Head of Marketing Services: Daniel Miles - GBR
Merchandising Manager: Serena Gosling - GBR
Events Manager: Emma Ramply - GBR
Commercial Co-ordinator: Emily Jennings - GBR
Finance Director: Dermot Heffernan - GBR
Finance Controller: Diana Puketapu - NZL
HR Director: Viv Jarvis - GBR
HR Manager: Carolyn Spencer - GBR
HR Co-ordinator: Michelle Whittington - GBR
Legal Counsel: Robert Datnow - GBR
Project Manager: Martin Rust - GBR
PA to Sir Keith Mills Debbie Cavanagh - GBR
PA to Mike Sanderson: Charlotte Kootstra - HOL
Apologies to those of the 57-strong ORIGIN team we have omitted - purely down to sore thumbs! Our thanks go to the team for their hospitality.
Inset image: 'TEAMORIGIN Open The Southampton Boatshow' Photo © The Afterguard 2007