The surprise sacking of team director Mike Sanderson was announced by Britain's Team Origin challenge for the America's Cup tonight.
The Kiwi who won the Volvo round the world race in 2004-05 had been with his family, including solo round the world racer wife Emma, in the Sardinian island of La Maddalena for training with the team, skippered by Ben Ainslie, ahead of the Louis Vuitton Trophy regatta which starts this weekend.
In a terse statement, Origin said that Sir Keith Mills, boss of the Origin team and deputy chairman of the organising committee for the London Olympics, had taken the decision as part of a restructuring exercise which is expected to include other departures.
"The decision has been taken to ensure that the team functions as effectively and efficiently as possible in order to improve the team's performance and ultimately win the America's Cup," said a spokesman.
It appears that Sanderson has paid the price for disappointing results at the Louis Vuitton regatta in Auckland in March and last week in its brand new TP52 at the Audi MedCup regatta in Lisbon.
Sanderson said he was feeling "a bit beaten up" but he did not want any ill feeling with Sir Keith and wished the team the best of luck. "It came as a bit of a surprise," he added.