Current offshore sailing team will compete on the 2011 Audi MedCup Circuit with a new build Rolf Vrolijk designed TP52

Swedish businessman Niklas Zennstrom’s Rán sailing team (GBR), winners of the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race and current MiniMaxi class world champions and class winners in the last Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race, have decided to make the “next logical step”, to race next year’s Audi MedCup Circuit with a boat which starts building at Green Marine in Lymington imminently.

Their project is run by Tim Powell, who skippers Rán, and who has many years experience of the MedCup Circuit as longtime co-helmsman/strategist on Cristabella (GBR).

Zennstrom, co-founder of Skype, the world’s largest VOIP system (much loved by sailors), will steer the boat. He has been a passionate owner-driver since returning to sailing as a boat owner in 2007. In 2008 he campaigned Rán, an IRC optimised TP52 (the former Patches) in a hot IRC TP52 fleet of six boats in UK and Irish waters.

That TP52 was the precursor to a more wide-ranging and successful international programme with their IRC Judel/Vrolijk 72 footer, which has included all of the ocean racing ‘classics’.

The boat build will be project managed in England by Chris Hosking, whose TP52 track record includes three Artemis TP52’s, including the 2007 MedCup champion, and the 2006 Vrolijk designed TP52 Illbruck.

The schedule is for the new Rán (named after the Norse goddess of the sea) to be launched in April to compete at Palma Vela next spring.

Zennstrom and his team will also continue to compete globally with their 72 footer, and honing their one-design skills on the Solent with a Farr 45.

Niklas Zennstrom commented: “I think it is a natural progression for us, we have been watching the Circuit and it seems to be very competitive and very well managed, and seems to be the best thing to do if you want to get more high level racing in. It is a big challenge.

“It is primarily my wish to get into this fleet, we have discussed it and initially we thought about getting into the fleet in 2012, but we decided that 2011 is more attractive with the Cup teams disappearing. Watching from outside this year, the media coverage it enjoys shows how competitive it is. Full on Cup teams make it difficult to do well, so with some disappearing it can be easier for a team like us to be more competitive.

“It is about winning. Winning as a team is a great thing. It is the whole thing about it that I love, from the planning. I am excited about building a new boat now. We have been good with the MiniMaxi 72 footer, building a very competitive, well built boat, setting up the programme. But in IRC there is so much flexibility. In the TP52 there are very small changes, so that is a very different thing.

“I am very confident with our team. I don’t have any illusions. I am going into this realising that it will be a learning experience. We are up against full pro teams. We will do our best, but it is going to be hard to do very well.”

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