Skipper, helmsman and BMW Oracle Racing CEO is off the boat. Matthew Sheahan reports on the team's last chance
Since the first signs that all was not well in the BMW Oracle camp, journalists on the opposite side of the Darsena (Port America’s Cup) have been keeping vigil for any signs of change.
This morning (Sunday) the white smoke appeared from the top of the building – a new skipper and tactician had been appointed, Gavin Brady. B-boat driver Sten Mohr is to helm the boat.
With the American team 4:1 down to their opponents Luna Rossa, today is a crucial, must-win match. Talk about pressure. Trip up and the team is out for good.
There is perhaps a strange irony in that last time Sten Mohr drove USA-98 in anger was against China Team in Round Robin Two, a race that ended in disaster for the Americans and, as it turns out, prevented them from choosing the Spanish for the semi finals. It could be argued that had BMW Oracle not lost this match they might not be in this predicament. While it would be unfair to lay the blame at Mohr’s feet, there would appear to be a very strong incentive for turning things around for the team.
The official statement made interesting reading, particularly Dickson’s statement.
“We brought our best package into the semi-finals, but we have not achieved the results we were hoping for, so in my capacity as CEO I fully support any moves that will give us a chance to win,” he said.
‘Support any moves’? Does this mean that others had suggested he step down?
Sten Mohr joined BMW Oracle in 2006 as a testing helmsman and as a sparring partner for Dickson. Mohr is an experienced match racer who was ranked No.1 in the world rankings in 1999.
Here’s the full crew list for today.
Gavin Brady – Skipper/Tactician
Eric Doyle – Strategist/Runners
Sten Mohr – Helmsman
Peter Isler – Navigator
Larry Ellison – Afterguard
Rod Daniel – Aft Grind/Pit Assist
Sean Clarkson – Traveller
Paul Westlake – Mainsail Trimmer
Joe Spooner – Main Grinder
Ross Halcrow – Trimmer
Zach Hurst – Trimmer
Craig Monk – Grinder
Ian Baker – Grinder
David Brooke – Mast
Jamie Gale – Pit
Phil Jameson – Mid-Bow
Kazuhiko Sofuku – Bow
No one now disputes that the team is in the last chance saloon. Can such a radical change work? Many believe it can’t, citing several previous Cup campaigns where a last minute switch has both failed to deliver the goods and ruin the confidence of the last minute helmsmen.
But, with a boat that lacks little when it comes to speed and a crew keen to prove a point within their camp, perhaps today could re-write the form books.
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