Team Origin looks to the future

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The Independent Online

While most of the 700-plus Olympic sailors were pinned ashore by high winds at the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta in Weymouth today, Britain’s America’s Cup challenger, Team Origin, was announcing major plans for the remainder of this year and through 2010.

After a weekend of conference calls between England, France and the United States, agreement has been reached on the team, led by LOCOG deputy chairman Sir Keith Mills, becoming one of the 10 preferential shareholders in the recently formed World Sailing Team Association, which will contest the first Louis Vuitton World Series event starting in Nice in November.

The second regatta is scheduled for February/March in Auckland next year – the Origin team took part in the inaugural Louis Pacific Series there early this year – and then on to a third regatta in Maddaleina, Sicily, in May.

At the same time the team, skippered by triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie, will be putting together a campaign to take part in the Audi MedCup series next year. There will again be five regattas - the last of this year’s events is currently being staged in Cartagena, Spain – but a decision has yet to be taken on whether to buy an existing TP52 boat or design and built new.

“We will be looking for an existing boat which will be competitive,” said sailing manager Mike Sanderson, who has given up a place partnering Alex Thomson in the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre from Le Havre to Costa Rica as it clashes with the Nice regatta.

In Weymouth, only the high performance 49ers, whose entire programme was scrubbed on Tuesday. and the windsurfers were sent out to play in winds which were again gusting to gale force as organisers hoped for a late afternoon or evening lull to help the programme catch up.