Ran to join 2011 Audi MedCup
One of the most successful current offshore sailing teams will compete on the 2011 Audi MedCup Circuit with a new build Rolf Vrolijk designed TP52.
Niklas and Catherine Zennstrom’s Rán sailing team, winners of the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race and current Mini Maxi class world champions and class winners in the last Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race, have decided to make the ‘next logical step’ for them, to race next year’s Audi MedCup Circuit. They have a new boat which will start building imminently at Green Marine in Lymington, England.
Their successful project is run by Tim Powell, who skippers Rán, and has many years experience of the MedCup Circuit as longtime co-helmsman/strategist on John Cook's Cristabella.
Zennstrom, co-founder of Skype, will steer the boat. He has been a passionate owner-driver since returning to sailing as a boat owner in 2007, and in 2008 campaigned Rán, an IRC-optimised TP52 (the former Patches) in a hot IRC TP52 fleet of six boats in UK and Irish waters. That TP52 was the precursor to a more wide-ranging and successful international programme with their IRC Judel/Vrolijk 72 footer, which has included many of the ocean racing ‘classics’.
Build of the new TP52 will be project managed in England by Chris Hosking, whose TP52 track record includes three Artemis TP52s, including the 2007 MedCup champion, and the 2006 Vrolijk designed TP52 Illbruck.
The schedule is for the new Rán - which is named after the Norse goddess of the sea – to be launched in April on time to compete at Palma Vela next spring.
Zennstrom and his team will also continue to compete globally with their 72 footer, and honing their one-design skills on the Solent with a Farr 45.
“I think it is a natural progression for us, we have been watching the Circuit and it seems to be very competitive and very well managed, and seems to be the best thing to do if you want to get more high level racing in. It is a big challenge,” said Niklas Zennstrom. “It is primarily my wish to get into this fleet, we have discussed it and initially we thought about getting into the fleet in 2012, but we decided that 2011 is more attractive with the Cup teams disappearing. Watching from outside this year, the media coverage it enjoys shows how competitive it is. Full on Cup teams make it difficult to do well, so with some disappearing it can be easier for a team like us to be more competitive.”
“The thing that maybe characterises us as a team is that alongside myself and my wife we don’t have so many so called ‘superstars’, we work very well as a team, and together we just hate losing. Winning as a team is a great thing. It is the whole thing about it that I love, from the planning. I am excited about building a new boat now. We have been good with the MiniMaxi 72 footer, building a very competitive, well built boat, setting up the programme. But in IRC there is so much flexibility. In the TP52 there are very small changes, so that is a very different thing.
“I am very confident with our team. I don’t have any illusions. I am going into this realising that it will be a learning experience. We are up against full pro teams. We will do our best, but it is going to be hard to do very well.”
Project Manager Tim Powell added: “The Rán 72 project has been great and we have had a pretty awesome year. This is the next step for Niklas. He watches the MedCup and the TP52s avidly. We should be under no illusions that the TP52 will be a very, very big step from what we have been doing. It is incredibly tough racing and we are coming in here with very realistic goals as to what we are going to achieve, but as a group of people we put the time and effort into the boat side of things before it even gets built, so we have a very good product when it hits the water and in Niklas we have an owner who is prepared to put the time and effort in himself as well as the crew, to improve and learn and so hopefully we will see a progression as next year goes on.”
Nacho Postigo, Technical Director Audi MedCup Circuit gave his view: “We are very pleased with Rán joining the Audi MedCup Circuit. The team is relatively new but they have done so well and sailed at such a high level, it will be a very interesting new team to join the Circuit. The other two exciting and encouraging things for me are that Niklas is planning to steer his own boat, and this is the first time that we have seen an owner attracted to the Audi MedCup Circuit having had experience of owning and campaigning an IRC moded TP52, and we hope this will encourage more to do the same. I think he will find this challenging at the beginning, but he looks like the kind of person who enjoys a challenge.”