Friday, 21 December 2007

The Afterguard: Wishing Our Readers A Very Merry Christmas

The Afterguard would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and a happy and peaceful 2008.

To those at sea throughout the festive season we wish safe passage.

To the crews and shore crews of America's Cup teams we wish a successful and positive New Year. In particular, we hope the fortunes of all involved with TEAMORIGIN take a beneficial turn in the year ahead.

To the protagonists responsible for the mess they've left the cup in, we hope they'll take a little time over the holiday season to reflect on their actions in recent months, and perhaps strive to do a little more for the common good as we move into the new year.

We remain hopeful for the opportunity to return in 2008 and cover America's Cup sporting activity, once and for all to banish the bitter after-taste of apparent America's Cup malfeasance we've all suffered recently. Let's hope we'll soon remember 2007 for the excellent 32nd America's Cup alone.

Peace and goodwill to all.

Image: Art by Alan Giana.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

The Afterguard: TEAMORIGIN Batten Down The Hatches

TEAMORIGIN this afternoon acknowledged that no multiple-challenger America's Cup competition is likely to take place before 2011.

Careful to temper language when reflecting on the shambolic state of mismanagement that the America's Cup is in, there is little doubting the disappointment behind the team principle's pledge to try to keep TEAMORIGIN together over the next four years.

Having witnessed the effort that has gone into generating the cohesion and ambition driving all members of TEAMORIGIN, The Afterguard wishes to extend its best wishes to all concerned for the future.

The team's latest release (here) reproduced in full:

TEAMORIGIN Aims For 2011

TEAMORIGIN, Britain’s Challenge for the America’s Cup, is modifying its plans to aim for competition in 2011. Originally planned for 2009 this date is now seen as the most likely date for an America’s Cup event with multiple challengers.

“Over the past 12 months Team Director Mike Sanderson and I have assembled what we believe to be an incredibly strong team in TEAMORIGIN. Today that team is made up of over 100 people and numbers amongst them the best sailors, designers and shore side management in the business. With the work accomplished so far we were on track to race the new AC90 class competitively for the America’s Cup in 2009. However, our assessment now is that a 2009 America’s Cup Match that TEAMORIGIN could compete in is extremely unlikely and that 2011 is now the most likely timing for the next America’s Cup with multiple challengers,” explained Team Principal Sir Keith Mills.

Certain members of the team have less of a rush on their hands now in terms of getting racing yachts ready for a competition in Valencia originally scheduled for 18 months from now.

“Up until today the design team, run by Juan Kouyoumdjian, Andy Claughton and Mickey Ickert, had been working flat out to design the first of the team’s AC-90 yachts.
TEAMORIGIN’s shore crew and boat builders had been making all arrangements to build this boat in time for a June 2008 launch in Valencia. We now see a longer period ahead of us before a race-ready yacht is required and so have taken this opportunity to change our approach. To keep these original plans in place now would be wasteful and as a result TEAMORIGIN is lowering its current level of activity and re-focusing on planning for a 2011 event. The team is however always prepared for any eventuality and it has the flexibility to quickly escalate the programme and plans in case the America’s Cup situation changes again,” said Team Director Mike Sanderson.

When Sir Keith Mills first announced his intentions to challenge for the America’s Cup 11 months ago it was without knowing the dates, venue or format of the first event a British team could race in. Although initially expecting to be able to race in the 33rd America’s Cup, announced in July of this year to be run in 2009, the ongoing litigation between the Swiss Defender and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club has brought into question the dates and format of the next event.

“The greatest thing that I found have about TEAMORIGIN during its formative months has been the spirit in which a really strong and competitive team has been created. We have an incredible array of motivated talent in this team, people who want to do this for the right reasons. Although, through lack of an event, we have to slow down now in our preparations I know that when the time comes this team will regroup and come out even stronger,” said TEAMORIGIN’s skipper Ben Ainslie OBE.

“I remain totally committed to the America’s Cup and to maintaining the competitive advantage that TEAMORIGIN has built,” continued Sir Keith. “But I am extremely frustrated and disappointed about the current state of affairs. What we need is clarity and I urge the Defender and Challenger of Record to reach an agreement that provides the prospective challengers like TEAMORIGIN with the certainty they need to plan future campaigns.”

“My principal goal now is to keep TEAMORIGIN together so as to be able to compete for the America’s Cup at some time in the future. Without any certainty today as to when, where and how that will be I am reluctantly forced to slow things down and stand the team down from full operational mode,” concluded Sir Keith.

The Afterguard: The Deafening Sound Of Silence

Alive & well, The Afterguard remains silent for good reason.

We at The Afterguard are grateful to all who have emailed us over recent weeks to check that all is ok with us and to enquire as to why we have been silent.

To be honest, our initial enthusiasm for the machinations behind the scenes of the America's Cup have turned over recent months to utter contempt for those responsible for turning a once honourable sporting event into a circus whose only currency is greed and arrogance. Such is our disregard for those involved that we'd rather deny the oxygen of publicity to these parties on our pages; there are others who are more eloquent in their reporting of the self-inflicted humiliation being played out - we'll remain silent and maintain a watching brief, ready to return just as soon as sportsmanship is ready to replace selfishness.

Here's to the hope of some sport in 2008.