American sailor Jonathan McKee signs up a co-skipper of the IMOCA 60 Estrella Damm campaign 9/7/07

Leading American sailor, Jonathan McKee, today has been confirmed as co-skipper to Spanish skipper, Guillermo Altadill, for the IMOCA 60 Estrella Damm campaign. The duo will be gunning for a podium finish in this winter’s double-handed, non-stop Barcelona World Race starting 11th November. The two sailors have never raced together before but their combined experience is set to make them a competitive force. Both seemingly easy going on the outside, this apparent affability masks their intense competitive nature.

Based in Seattle, USA, Jonathan is a natural sailor and his skills were quickly snapped up by the America’s Cup, which saw him race with the One World Challenge in 2003 and recently Luna Rossa in 2007, who saw off the might of BMW Oracle in the semi-finals. A Yale graduate in architecture, Jonathan started his sailing career as a designer and went on to become an Olympic champion winning a Gold Medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in the Flying Dutchman Class; then at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, McKee bought home a Bronze Medal the 49er dinghy class. Jonathan is also a World Champion in the Flying Dutchman, 49er, Melges 24 and Tasar class.

In the offshore racing world, he has experienced racing an IMOCA Open 60 onboard Ellen MacArthur’s Kingfisher in the 2001 EDS Atlantic Challenge and to victory with Jonny Malbon onboard Artemis in last year’s RORC Round Britain & Ireland Race.

McKee also undertook his first Mini Transat race in 2003. As race favourie he took an early lead which he held all the way across the Atlantic and was on the home straight when his mast broke, shattering his chances of becoming the first ‘rookie’ to win the race.

Aged 48 and a father of two young children, Jonathan will be training with Guillermo within two weeks and they are aiming to qualify for the Barcelona World Race as soon as possible. McKee commented: “I am really excited to be joining the Estrella Damm Sailing Team. This is a fantastic opportunity to compete amongst one of the most competitive IMOCA 60 fleets in history and I am really looking forward to sailing with Guillermo in this unique adventure. We do have a lot of work ahead to learn how to sail together and how to sail the boat to her full potential. The aim is to first and foremost finish the race in order to give ourselves the best chances for a good result. I am also really excited to take part in my first round the world race with Spain’s most experienced sailor in circumnavigations – a good decision, I think! This will be an experience of a lifetime and I can’t wait to get started.”

Guillermo Altadill, who will be racing in his seventh circumnavigation of his career, added: “I’m really delighted that Jonathan accepted our invitation to compete in the Barcelona World Race with me onboard Estrella Damm. He is a great sailor and we both have Olympic background as well as grand prix and offshore racing. I believe that together we can learn fast about IMOCA Open 60s as Jonathan already has some previous experience on Kingfisher, and that we can become a great team.”