Skype co-founder on learning curve at the Audi Medcup
Thursday 19 May 2011
Niklas Zennström spent last winter with two central tasks. One was putting all the finishing touches to the selling of the company in which he was a co-founder, Skype, to Microsoft for £5.2bn. The other was keeping day to day tabs on the design, build, launch and commissioning of his new racing yacht, like the others named Rán, the Norse goddess of storms, who specialised in sinking ships and collecting the bodies of drowned sailors.
Zennström is less murderous, but he has stepped into an area of sailing that took just a few hours to make him re-assess the nature of the task ahead of him. The Audi MedCup is full of predators.
“We had been feeling well-prepared,” as he waited for the wind to settle today. “”But, on the first race day we made a lot of stupid mistakes. It showed us how competitive this fleet is, how intensive and tough the competition is. People are attacking you the whole time.”
He is the only owner-driver among a pack of professionals but no quarter will be given and none expected. “The goal is to improve throughout the series, and we know that the others will not be standing still,” he said, “the learning curve is very apparent.”
Because he is Swedish, the boat carries the flag of Sweden, but there is a very British feel to the team. Zennström lives in London, the boat was built in Lymington and the crew started pre-Audi training in the Spring Series at Warsash on the Hamble River, where he is also a prominent member of the Royal Southern Yacht Club on the opposite shore.
“This is great sailing and I want to sail the boat, which is something I could not do is, say, the America’s Cup, where I would be sitting on the dock just watching and signing the cheques. This is THE professional circuit and that is what we have signed up for.”
But a poor start to the third race put Rán at the back of the pack and it was only a penalty against Jochen Schuemann’s All4One that gave them back a place. Spain’s Bribón, skippered by Gonzalo Araujo led from start to finish chased hope by Guillermo Parada on Azzurra and the Russian entry, Synergy, helmed by Eugeniy Neugodnikov, was third.
The first race for the Soto 40 fleet was easily won by José Maria Torcida on Spain’s Iberdrola. Britain’s Ngoni, helmed by Mark Lambrusco, was easily last.
Latest in Sport
Manchester United teased by Monaco after claims they could have signed 'Luis Suarez of Neymar' instead or £58m Anthony Martial
Former Manchester United star Karel Poborsky goes full hipster
Manchester United hit back at Real Madrid by claiming they let David De Gea 'slip through their fingers into the back of the net'
Premier League Power Rankings: Eden Hazard and Harry Kane continue to slip but Wayne Rooney has to perform against rivals
Serie B introduces 'green cards' to promote good behaviour, fair play and sportsmanship
- 2 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 3 Malnourished two-year-old found being breastfed by dog in Chile
- 5 YouTube video shows woman verbally abusing takeaway staff 'because they used green peppers'
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees