Grant ‘Fuzz’ Spanhake, veteran round the world racer, will step onboard Team Tyco for leg five of the VOR

Grant ‘Fuzz’ Spanhake, veteran round the world racer, will step onboard the VOR yacht Team Tyco as specialist trimmer for the 4,450 nautical mile leg from Rio de Janeiro to Miami which starts on Saturday (9 March).

Spanhake is no stranger to this event. He is a veteran of three Whitbread races, sailing with the late Sir Peter Blake on Lion New Zealand in 1985-86, Grant Dalton in 1989-90 on Fisher and Paykel and finally, in 1997-98, on George Collins’ Chessie Racing. He will replace Australian crewmember Jim Close for this leg.

Kevin Shoebridge, skipper commented: “Grant is a hugely experienced trimmer and as the sail designer for Team Tyco, he’s been heavily involved with sail development from the start of the project. He is also a good racer and helmsman, and his expertise will be useful during this very technical leg. Having Grant onboard is a good way to keep our sail programme progressing. This is a real boat speed leg, and we feel that we’ve got to be as strong as possible in that area. He’ll have the advantage of seeing first hand how the sails are performing against the competition and will be able to better develop the sail programme accordingly.”

In addition to his Whitbread experience, Spanhake has participated in four America’s Cups, winning it in San Diego in 1992 with America 3. Spanhake has three Sydney-Hobarts and four Fastnet races under his belt.

Spanhake is keen to sail on the boat to Miami. “It’s a wonderful leg to do, who could resist a race in the Carribbean? The racing is going to be intense and exciting. The boats are all stacked up on top of each other, points-wise, and it’s going to come down to tactics, navigation, some fast sailing and getting the most out of the boat. I’m a high energy sort of guy and hard driving, which will be good for the team.”

After the setback on leg two from Cape Town to Sydney, where the team suffered a damaged rudder and had to retire from the leg, Team Tyco has had two consecutive podium finishes. “The shore team has done a great job getting the boat ready for the restart,” says project director, Michael Castania. “After the setback of a broken rudder on leg two, Team Tyco has had strong finishes on legs three and four with a third place both times. Kevin [Shoebridge] has done a great job and we are focusing on another podium finish.”

Race Crew for leg five

Kevin Shoebridge (NZL) – skipper

Steve Hayles (GBR) – navigator

Brad Jackson (NZL) – watch leader

Tim Powell (GBR) – watch leader

Grant Spanhake (NZL) – helmsman/trimmer

Gerry Mitchell (GBR) – helmsman/trimmer

Robert Salthouse (NZL) – helmsman/trimmer

Jonathan Swain (RSA) – helmsman/trimmer

David Endean (NZL) – mast

Damian Foxall (IRL) – pit

Jan Dekker (FR) – bow

Guy Salter (GBR) – bow