Four times Cup winner Grant Simmer has been appointed CEO of the Land Rover BAR America's Cup team.
The four times America’s Cup winner Grant Simmer has been brought in as the new CEO of Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR team.
Martin Whitmarsh, the former CEO who joined in 2015 having previously led the Formula 1 team Maclaren, will continue as advisor to Land Rover BAR and CEO of newly formed BAR Technologies, the team’s commercial arm.
Land Rover BAR was launched in 2014 as a new challenger for the 35th America’s Cup. The team was well funded and had a strong sailing squad, headed up by team principal and skipper Ainslie, going on to win the America’s Cup World Series in the foiling one-design AC45s during the pre-Cup build up. But Land Rover BAR crashed out of the Cup during the semi-final stage of the Louis Vuitton Challenger series by 5-2 against the eventual winners Emirates Team New Zealand.
After the Cup, Ainslie admitted that their design strategy for the AC50 had been wrong and that changes were needed. Writing in The Telegraph in June he commented:
“Inevitably, there will be personnel change throughout the team. That’s the nature of development.
“On the sailing side, we need to become better at working with the design team to give feedback. I personally learnt a huge amount in this campaign in terms of working with the designers and being intimately involved with the design process. Never has the America’s Cup been such a technical challenge for the sailors. We can all become better at that.” Ainslie also made it clear that he intends to continue as skipper.
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The hope will be that Grant Simmer can link the talents of the sailing team and design office. Simmer has won the America’s Cup four times, and competed in 10 Cup cycles both as a sailor and in head of design and team manager roles.
He was navigator aboard Australia II’s historic victory in 1983, when the famous winged keel design broke America’s 132-year stronghold on the Cup, and sailed with the defender in 1987. He then went on to win the America’s Cup twice as head of design with the Swiss team Alinghi in 2003 and 2007, and was general manager for Oracle Team USA, winners of the 34th America’s Cup in 2013 and defeated defenders last year.
In between his time at Alinghi and Oracle, Simmer was also briefly CEO of the last British America’s Cup challenge, the short-lived Team Origin. Ben Ainslie has worked closely with Simmer at both Oracle Team USA, where Ainslie was tactician during the 2013 victory, and Team Origin.
Ainslie commented: “Grant’s experience and achievements in the America’s Cup are second to none. He has won the America’s Cup four times, either as a sailor, design coordinator or general manager. He is the right person to help Land Rover BAR achieve the goal to bring the Cup home to Britain.”
Simmer said of starting the new role: “It feels like the right time to be joining the team at Land Rover BAR with the new class of boat due to be revealed this month by the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand. We can move forward to further develop and strengthen our design strategy.
“I’ve been really impressed by what Ben, Martin and the team have created from a standing start in just four years. After a period of consolidation and reflection since the last Cup concluded in Bermuda, I see a team that have laid the foundations of a strong organisation, ready to take on the sporting challenge that lies ahead.”
Grant Simmer will take responsibility for the sporting and performance side of Land Rover BAR alongside Team Principal Ben Ainslie, with the focus on winning the America’s Cup. The next America’s Cup will be raced in 75ft monohulls with the match scheduled for March 2021, likely in Auckland.
Martin Whitmarsh will continue as an advisor to the team and CEO of BAR Technologies, formed to commercialise technologies developed through the America’s Cup team.
Whitmarsh, CEO BAR Technologies commented; “Ben, Charles (Dunstone) and I were always clear that we needed someone with a full time focus on the racing team. I’m delighted therefore that someone with Grant’s experience is joining us and that I can continue to assist Ben and the business to develop and of course bring the Cup home.”
Simmer will be in the UK from mid-November to start working with the team and will relocate from his native Australia in the New Year.