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 Team Origin. 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 Team Origin 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. Team Origin’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 Team Origin 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 Team Origin 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 Team Origin’s skipper Ben Ainslie OBE.
'I remain totally committed to the America’s Cup and to maintaining the competitive advantage that Team Origin 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 Team Origin with the certainty they need to plan future campaigns.'
'My principal goal now is to keep Team Origin 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.