Brit's Golden Team turn their back on America's Cup
by Richard Gladwell on 2 Oct 2010
TeamOrigin, the yacht racing team established by Sir Keith Mills, and skippered by triple Olympic Gold Medallist, Ben Ainslie, have announced that it will not be challenging for the next America’s Cup scheduled for 2013.
Britain’s Golden Sailing Team will set their sight on more Gold in 2012 than trying for the America’s Cup in 2013 © Richard Gladwell http://www.richardgladwell.com
The team, which was set up in 2007, has been waiting for three years to enter the America’s Cup, which was delayed when the US team, BMW Oracle Racing, took the Swiss team, Alinghi, through the US courts.
The British team was set up to challenge for the 33rd America's Cup when that was being touted by the then Swiss based holders, Alinghi, when they were running the America's Cup as a multi-challenger, mutual consent event at one stage of the Appeal process in the US legal system. Up to 20 teams were involved at that stage, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, in the Swiss-style process.
The US team won the court battle and won the 33rd America’s Cup Match to become the America’s Cup Defender in February this year.
TeamOrigin competed in the Louis Vuitton Trophy series of regattas - events designed to keep teams honed while the America's Cup legal process worked its way through bowel of the New York Supreme Court and then into the Match itself.
They launched a TP52 and competed with some distinction on the Audi MedCup circuit this year.
In late August, the new US Defender announced the format for the next America’s Cup, including the rules and type of boat to be raced. TeamOrigin has also been briefed by the Defender and has made numerous comments on both the regatta rules and class rule. This included a meeting with the US team hierarchy during the special 1851 Cup staged between TeamOrigin and BMW Oracle Racing, sailed between America's Cup Version 5 yachts supplied by BMW Oracle racing and re-liveried for the occasion including a sponsorship by car-maker Jaguar.
The media statement issued by the team says that having now had a chance to analyse the race format, the proposed fixed wing catamaran boat, the timetable, rules and costs, Sir Keith has concluded that the 34th America’s Cup is neither viable commercially, nor an attractive sporting contest for TeamOrigin. Therefore he has decided that the team will not submit a challenge when the challenge period opens on 1 November.
Sir Keith Mills, TeamOrigin Team Principal, 'After three years of waiting in the wings to enter a British team in the America’s Cup I am bitterly disappointed that we will not be competing. However, the format and timetable decided by the Defender, BMW/Oracle, is simply not viable for TeamOrigin. We have assembled an outstanding team, led by Grant Simmer and Ben Ainslie, and I am personally very sorry that they won’t now get the chance to race for a British team in the next America’s Cup'.
Over the next couple of months TeamOrigin say they will be considering whether it will compete in other yachting events over the next few years.
Clearly the 12 month gap between the 2012 Olympics, in London, and the 2013 America's Cup regatta is a big factor in the withdrawal of the team from the 34th America's Cup cycle.
TeamOrigin's glittering afterguard of Olympic Gold Medalists showed flashes of promise in their transition onto the big boats, however they also clearly had work to do, and have showed the maturity so lacking in many others, to pull back rather than try a half-effort and hope.
In the end, time was against the British, whose first priority always had to be a home Olympics and a chance to write a final golden chapter on several already stellar sailing careers.
Recently TeamOrigin released their founding Director, Mike Sanderson (NZ) a former America's Cup competitor and winner the Volvo Ocean Race, replacing him with Grant Simmer, former design director with the twice winning Swiss America's Cup team, Alinghi, in an apparent move to up the ante for the 34th America's Cup.
However all that is not to be, and the 34th America's Cup will be the poorer for the non-appearance of the British Team. It is not known, or expected that other teams will make similar announcements ahead of the opening of the entry window on 1 November.