merica's Cup star, Mike Sanderson, will skipper Pindar's entry in the 2004 Transat race, from Plymouth, UK, to Boston, US

America’s Cup star, Mike Sanderson, will skipper Pindar’s entry in the 2004 Transat race, from Plymouth, UK, to Boston, US, it was announced today.

Sanderson, 32, from New Zealand, joined the Pindar sailing team last year when he teamed up with Emma Richards for the Transat Jacques Vabre. He will now represent Pindar once more in what is the world’s most historic single-handed yacht race. The entry will be named Pindar / AlphaGraphics after the leading international print and electronic media company, and the rapid response franchise network which is also part of the Pindar Group.

The 2004 Transat starts on 31 May and is expected to last two weeks. Sanderson, who has competed in three America’s Cup campaigns including most recently as mainsheet trimmer on Oracle BMW, will line up next to some of the world’s leading solo sailors. Even though this will be Sanderson’s first single-handed ocean race, he is no stranger to offshore sailing. He was a crew member on Grant Dalton’s New Zealand Endeavour which won the 1993-94 Whitbread Round-the-World Race, and only four months ago he was helmsman onboard Robert Miller’s Mari Cha IV which shattered the prestigious west to east transatlantic speed record by over two days. Sanderson commented:”I am very excited to be taking on this new challenge. It is a fantastic opportunity both for me personally and also to learn even more about this great boat, which is particularly important to the development of our Volvo Ocean Race campaign. I’m proud to take the baton from Emma for this race and fly the flag for Pindar in two of their key territories.”

Whilst Sanderson is competing on the water, Pindar’s long association with Emma Richards will continue on land. Richards, who won the Open 50 class of the 2000 Transat in Pindar’s colours, is currently focussing her efforts on finding a title sponsor for her and Sanderson’s Volvo Ocean Race campaign. Their search for funding is being supported by Pindar’s marketing team, and they are currently in discussions with a number of leading international companies with regards to the three-year £12 million sponsorship. Richards is also finishing writing a book about her exploits in Around Alone to be published later this year. Richards added: “Whilst I have often said that solo sailing is not my favourite cup of tea, this was not a key factor in the decision for Mike to compete in the Transat. Mike and I are trying to best split our time between continuing our campaign with Pindar whilst trying to secure a title sponsor for the Volvo Ocean Race. We have until the summer to secure the funding so it was imperative that I could dedicate 100 per cent of my time to this. Hopefully, in the meantime, Mike can go on and win the race for Pindar.”

Andrew Pindar, Chairman of G.A. Pindar & Son commented: “We are thrilled to announce that Mike Sanderson will be competing for Pindar and AlphaGraphics in the Transat. Mike is one of the world’s top sailors, and since we purchased Pindar last year, he has been instrumental in the development of what we believe to be one of the fastest Open 60s on the water.

“There was never any doubt that we would enter this great race as, thanks to Emma’s victory four years ago, it holds many happy memories for us. We are in the fortunate position of having two world class sailors that could represent Pindar in the race, however, we also want to support Emma and Mike’s Volvo Ocean Race campaign, so we have decided that this is the best solution.”