Beefcakes make a difference

GBR Challenge signs up an Oxford Blue

Thursday June 28th 2001, Author: Mark Bullingham, Location: United Kingdom

Following in the footsteps of Olympic Gold Medallist Greg Searle, rower Ian Weighell has joined Peter Harrison's GBR Challenge. Weighell, who was a member of the Oxford eight in the Boat Race this year, has been recruited, like Searle to be one of the grinders for the British America's Cup team.

Peter Harrison, Chairman and Chief Executive of GBR Challenge, commented: "I am delighted that Ian has joined our sailing team, to link with Greg Searle in the mid-section of the yacht. In this area we want to combine a high power to weight ratio, which rowers have inevitably built up through their training, to achieve the necessary speed and timing for America's Cup Class racing."

Sailing Manager, Ian Walker, explained the reason for the selection. "I was struck by Ian's enthusiasm as I was keen to have another non-sailor to learn with Greg and for him to measure himself against. With James Lyne, Guy Reid and Mark Covell, we now have strength in what was an area of weakness."

Weighell, 25, started rowing when he was 14 at Windsor Boys School. He was bronze medallist in the Junior World Championships in the quad scull and an under 23 and Senior GB international in the quad scull and coxed four. So why has Weighell made a career change to a sport in which he has never competed? "After a two day trial with the GBR Challenge I was really excited by the potential of an America's Cup Challenge. The team are all united with a common goal, of being competitive in Auckland in 16 months time, which is really motivating.

"When I first went to Oxford, I was really impressed with the back-up around the rowers and it was the same when I turned up here. The whole programme is about more than just the sailing, there's so much going on in the design team, shore team, build team and so on, but everyone shares the common goal.

"I'm looking forward to being able to contribute more and more on the water as I learn to race and also using my rowing background to help some of the team with the physical aspects of training."

The British sailing team continues to grow, now standing at 28 including six sailors on extended trial. Final trials are currently under way and the final squad will be in place by the start of July. Ian Walker commented: "We've had ten weeks of tough training on the Solent, with a really high standard of sailors trailing for the team. We've trailed nearly 50 sailors and I'm delighted to have found four or five to strengthen our squad."

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