In an incredible announcement, just over an hour ago, TeamOrigin has announced the departure of team head, Mike Sanderson.
The announcement is ostensibly following a decision to restructure the organization, however no alternative structure has been announced, and no replacement named.
Sanderson (NZL) is one of the world's most accomplished sailors, being a former winner of the Rolex ISAF Sailor of the Year, winner of the Volvo Round the World Race and many other offshore events. He is also a veteran of several America's Cup campaigns.
The timing of the move is also surprising given that TeamOrigin are about to compete in the Louis Vuitton Trophy at La Maddelena (ITA) and have just competed in the first round of the Audi MedCup in the TP52's at Cascais, and the logical time to have made this organizational adjustment would have been at a slow time in the racing season rather than a period of peak racing activity.
The announcement from TeamOrigin reads: TEAMORIGIN announced today that Mike Sanderson has left the team following the decision by Sir Keith Mills, Team Principal, to restructure the organisation. This decision has been taken to ensure that the team functions as effectively and efficiently as possible, in order to improve the team’s performance and ultimately win the America’s Cup. Mike has been with the team since it was formed in 2007. He has made a huge contribution to establishing what has been a relatively new team and has worked hard to keep the team together over the last three years while the America’s Cup was in the courts. Sir Keith and the team wish Mike every success in the future.
There has been no comment from Sanderson as to his next intentions.
The Daily Telegraph reported: There had been some unhappiness in the team for a few months, a spokesman said, with a difference in opinions and management styles between Sanderson and the crew, skippered by Ben Ainslie, a main bone of contention.
Sanderson, who won the Volvo Ocean Race in 2006 and has campaigned three America's Cups, was shocked and disappointed to be released.
'A British America's Cup team stands its best chance with a fully supported Ben Ainslie campaign and I have given it my very best shot over the past few years,' he said.
'The team has not been doing as well as it should have been and it was always going to be hard with the characters we had in the team to manage that underachievement. It has been a tricky few years. At the end of the day, if we were not performing, it was my fault. That was what I was being paid for.'