Mike Sanderson becomes first major appointment of new British America's Cup team 29/3/07

Thirty-five-year-old Mike Sanderson, the record-breaking ISAF World Sailor of the Year and winning skipper of the 2005-06 Volvo Ocean Race, has been appointed Team Director for Teamorigin, the new British America’s Cup campaign, it was announced today.

Teamorigin, launched earlier this year by Sir Keith Mills, the British businessman who ran London’s victorious bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, is aiming to make sailing history by becoming the first British challenger ever to win the America’s Cup. The team has committed to participate in at least two America’s Cup campaigns – the 33rd and 34th editions of the event, likely to take place in 2009 and 2011.

Sanderson will have overall responsibility for the team’s performance operations, reporting directly into Sir Keith Mills. Sanderson will work with Mills to select and appoint key team members for these areas of the campaign over the coming months, so that the core performance team is in place by the end of July.

Commenting on the team’s first appointment Sir Keith Mills, Team Principal said: “As well as having extensive experience of the America’s Cup, Mike Sanderson is a proven leader and winner. Following his incredible success in the Volvo Ocean Race last year, Mike has been in much demand, so we are immensely pleased to have secured him as our Team Director, with overall responsibility for the performance on the water. Our aim is to win the America’s Cup for Britain, and to achieve this we will recruit the world’s top talent – whether they hail from Newcastle or New Zealand. We are therefore delighted that our first major appointment is the ISAF World Sailor of the Year, who has vast all-round sailing experience, advanced technical knowledge, impressive communication and leadership skills, and is one of the most respected names in world sailing.”

Sanderson added: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I have been exploring a number of interesting roles since the Volvo Ocean Race, but the chance to play a part in creating sporting history by leading the first British team to win the America’s Cup is extremely appealing. I believe we are in an enviable position in that we have a clean sheet – we have a fresh opportunity to create the team in the way that we believe is best. I have met with Sir Keith Mills a number of times over the past few months and have been hugely impressed with both him as an individual and his vision for Teamorigin. The work that has already gone on by the team behind the scenes in preparing the foundations for success is well advanced. I firmly believe Teamorigin can win the America’s Cup and I am greatly looking forward to playing my part in it.”

Sanderson, who was recently awarded the prestigious accolade of ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year for 2006 by the International Sailing Federation, has performed at the highest level in almost all forms of sailing. He has been involved in three America’s Cup campaigns, most recently as mainsheet trimmer for Oracle BMW in 2003, where his team reached the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Series Finals.

His record in offshore sailing is even more impressive. He has won the Volvo Ocean Race on two occasions, and last year led TEAM ABN AMRO to one of the most emphatic victories in the history of the race, winning six out of the nine off-shore legs and five of seven in-port races. He has also broken a number of world records, including the 24-hour speed record as skipper of ABN AMRO One, and was skipper of Robert Miller’s Mari Cha IV, which captured the historic transatlantic monohull world speed record in October 2003.

Sanderson has also always been involved extensively in the technical aspects of his sailing programmes having been an integral part of the design and build teams working on the development of Mari Cha IV, both ABN AMRO boats, Pindar’s Open 60s, as well as his role in the performance/design team for Oracle BMW – this will be of enormous benefit to Teamorigin in progressing forward their technical programme and building the right Technical team.