America's Cup star, Mike SANDERSON (NZL), will skipper Pindar's entry in the 2004 Transat race, from Plymouth-GBR, to Boston-USA, it was announced today.
Sanderson joined the Pindar sailing team last year when he teamed up with Emma RICHARDS for the Transat Jacques Vabre. He will now represent Pindar once more in what is on of the world's most historic single-handed yacht races. The entry will be named Pindar / AlphaGraphics after the leading international print and electronic media company, and the rapid response franchise network which is also part of the Pindar Group.
The 2004 Transat starts on 31 May and is expected to last two weeks. Sanderson, who has competed in three America's Cup campaigns including most recently as mainsheet trimmer on Oracle BMW, will line up next to some leading solo sailors. Even though this will be Sanderson's first single-handed ocean race, he is no stranger to offshore sailing. He was a crew member on Grant Dalton's New Zealand Endeavour which won the 1993-94 Whitbread Round-the-World Race, and only four months ago he was helmsman onboard Robert Miller's Mari Cha IV which shattered the prestigious west to east transatlantic speed record by over 2 days.
Whilst Sanderson is competing on the water, Pindar's long association with Emma RICHARDS will continue on land. Richards, who won the Open 50 class of the 2000 Transat in Pindar's colours, is currently focussing her efforts on finding a title sponsor for her and Sanderson's Volvo Ocean Race campaign. Their search for funding is being supported by Pindar's marketing team, and they are currently in discussions with a number of leading international companies with regards to the three-year £12 million sponsorship. Richards is also finishing writing a book about her exploits in Around Alone to be published later this year.
Mike SANDERSON commented on the announcement. "I am very excited to be taking on this new challenge. It is a fantastic opportunity both for me personally and also to learn even more about this great boat, which is particularly important to the development of our Volvo Ocean Race campaign. I'm proud to take the baton from Emma for this race and fly the flag for Pindar in two of their key territories."
Andrew Pindar, Chairman of G.A. Pindar & Son had this to say about Mike SANDERSON " Mike is one of the world's top sailors, and since we purchased Pindar last year, he has been instrumental in the development of what we believe to be one of the fastest Open 60's on the water.
There was never any doubt that we would enter this great race as, thanks to Emma's victory four years ago, it holds many happy memories for us. We are in the fortunate position of having two world class sailors that could represent Pindar in the race, however, we also want to support Emma and Mike's Volvo Ocean Race campaign, so we have decided that this is the best solution."
Emma Richards was quick to dismiss her well known dislike of single-handed racing as a primary reason for Sanderson taking her place, but cited her commitment to finding sponsorship for the Pindar Volvo Ocean Race campaign as the focus over the next few months. "We have until the summer to secure the funding so it was imperative that I could dedicate 100% of my time to this. Hopefully, in the meantime, Mike can go on and win the race for Pindar."