South Africa's AC Team Shosholoza announces final afterguard for 2007 20/10/06

 South Africa’s Amercia’s Cup challenger Team Shosholoza has announced the final afterguard configuration for 2007. It includes Mark Sadler as Skipper, Paolo Cian as Helmsman, Ian Ainslie as Strategist, Tommaso Chieffi as Tactician and Marc Lagesse as Navigator.

Team Shosholoza managing director Captain Salvatore Sarno said the new configuration represented the strongest and best possible option for the team in 2007. “Now we are ready to achieve good results next year.”

Cian and Chieffi are both Italian professional sailors who joined Team Shosholoza earlier this year as specialist crew/coaches. They raced with the team in the May and June Louis Vuittton Acts as pre-start helmsman and helmsman respectively.

Cian was a helmsman with the Italian Mascalzone-Latino America’s Cup Challenger in Auckland in 2002/3 and is currently ranked No 2 on the ISAF world match racing leader board. Chieffi has been a member of the afterguard of four previous America’s Cup challenges.

Cian’s role as helmsman for Team Shosholoza has been consolidated while Chieffi becomes tactician in place of Californian grand prix skipper/tactician, Dee Smith, who left the team last month. The combined experience and expertise of Cian and Chieffi in the supportive roles of helmsman and tactician is expected to bring maximum benefit to the relatively inexperienced South African afterguard.

Ainslie, a three times South African Olympic sailor and formerly a helmsman for Team Shosholoza, becomes strategist, a position he held in the 2004 Acts.

Sadler, who is the second youngest skipper in the 32nd America’s Cup, retains his position as skipper as does Lagesse as navigator.

Captain Sarno also announced that Chieffi and Cian have been promoted to the position of sports director. In this position they will be responsible for the team sail training programme. They will also head up the technical committee for the sails and boat improvement programme.

Paul Standbridge retains his role as sailing manager and will work closely with Chieffi and Cian. The new sports directors are currently concentrating on the team’s sail training programme and all race preparations ahead of the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup in April next year. Cian said: “We’ve taken some big steps in the last couple of weeks and the progress of the entire team has been tremendous. We will continue to focus on working very hard every day.”

Chieffi, 44, has an impressive history with the America’s Cup. He was helmsman in the 1987 Italia campaign, strategist on the 1992 Il Moro Challenge, which won the Louis Vuitton Cup and tactician/strategist with Oracle Racing in 2003, which made the finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup. He was tactician for the Italian 39 Challenge in the 2005 Valencia Louis Vuitton Acts.