Sunday, 12 August 2007

TEAMORIGIN's Afterguard Cowes Week Round Up

Although news from TEAMORIGIN has been scarce of late, the two key figures behind the team, owner Sir Keith Mills and Team Director Mike Sanderson, have been busy participating in events at Cowes Week. Updated 13-8-07

Mike Sanderson had on his other sailing hat, seeing his involvement with Pindar's new open 60 reach a finale at Cowes and then on to the Fastnet.

Pindar Open 60 Dismasted
Pindar Photo © onEdition 2007

As reported widely elsewhere, a strange fate befell the vessel when structural failure did for her mast.

Having successfully sea-tested in good winds off New Zealand in mid-July, the Pindar Open 60 was then transported to Europe, and sailed from Belgium to Cowes without incident.

Everything therefore looked set fair for Wednesday's Artemis Challenge - round the island race, a much anticipated first meeting with two new giants of the class, Pindar & Estrella Damm (the Farr-designed Open 60 of Ellen MacArthur's OC Group). Onboard Pindar for the race were Mike Sanderson, Brad Jackson, Mike's wife, Emma Sanderson (née Richards), Jo Royle, along with the yacht's designer, Juan Kouyoumdjian & its owner, Andrew Pindar, among others.

Rounding the South side of the island between the Needles and St Catherine's under spinnaker, with Pindar and Estrella Dam easily leading the field and locked in their own battle in winds of 12-15 knots, Andrew Pindar re counted to SailKarma, “I am very disappointed. I don’t know why it happened. We heard ‘Bang! Bang!’ and then it seemed like a fast sort of slow motion as the sails came down. I am glad the designer Juan Kouyoumdjian was on board and we are now looking at what could have caused it.” Pindar's mast had failed some 2 metres above deck, and we're pleased to report that despite the danger, there were no injuries aboard, apart from some bruised egos. The mast and all rigging were recovered, and the boat was returned to Gosport for urgent attention.

According to Stuart Alexander of the Independent, Mike Sanderson helpfully concluded, "We'll just have to put Humpty back together again."

Sailing Networks got more comment from Mike, “Today was a very disappointing day. We don’t currently know how it happened, it’s a really clean break to the mast, nothing else is damaged. Once we are back at base we will try to get to the bottom of it, but it’s a real disappointment. I think the mast is repairable, but we won’t be able to make the Fastnet this weekend. Prior to the break, Pindar was going really well, we hit 18 knots at one point round by the Needles, which in the light winds we were experiencing was great stuff.”

Meanwhile, Andrew Pindar also commented to Sailing Networks, “To break the mast on Pindar’s first outing was terribly frustrating for everyone involved. I was on board the boat today when the incident occurred, and was utterly impressed by the way that Mike and the crew handled the situation with incredible calm professionalism. Due to the fact that we were unable to finish the race, and compete for the donation from Artemis to our chosen charity, Earthwatch, I will be making a personal donation towards their fantastic work.”

The Afterguard sent its best man to talk with several team members yesterday, and we can reveal that despite Andrew Pindar's initial hopes of rectifying everything in time for the start of the Fastnet (now delayed by 25 hours), the vessel will not be raced anytime soon. A decision is still to be made as to whether to repair the failure in the carbon tube of the deckspreader-supported wingmast, or whether to replace the whole mast section. Either way, the team are now working to ensure that Pindar is in perfect order for November's TJV (Transat Jacques Vabre) from France to Brazil.

As Elaine Bunting pondered in her Yachts & Yachting blog, despite helping in the conceptualisation of the vessel, TEAMORIGIN's Mike Sanderson may never sail her any time soon to a successful conclusion, as he will be unavailable for the TJV due to the anticipated birth of his & Emma's first child - due on 4th November - and his full attention will soon after be required for his America's Cup exploits.

Elsewhere at Cowes, TEAMORIGIN's owner, Sir Keith Mills, was busy onboard with & keeping an eye upon his protege, Alex Thomson Racing, who was busy giving an outing to his new Finot-Conq-designed Hugo Boss II open 60 (AKA the batmobile). During his time, Sir Keith commented on the proposed 33rd Protocol new AC class, "The thing that makes it exciting for TEAMORIGIN is the fact that all the teams are now starting from square one. For a new team that gives us a competitive advantage." Of Cowes, Sir Keith reflected, "It's the one occasion in the UK when pretty much the whole sailing community comes together, young and old, fast boats and slow ones, big ones and small ones. The atmosphere down here in Cowes is extraordinary. It's a great advert particularly for young guys who are just getting into the sport."

The Afterguard chose this particularly quiet time in the British sailing calendar (!) to pay a visit on the new Portsmouth base of TEAMORIGIN. While we didn't expect anyone to be there to offer us a cup of tea (they weren't and they therefore didn't), we couldn't resist a nosey-around. We won't bore you with the full photo-album, but we'll share a couple:

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