Peter Harrison, Founder and Chairman of GBR Challenge, the British America’s Cup team for 2002-03, today announced that he has appointed double Olympic Silver Medallist Ian Walker to be the GBR Challenge Skipper.
Peter Harrison explained his reasons: `I have had confidence in Ian as the Sailing Team Manager from the outset, having given him the responsibility for recruiting and building the right young talent for the team. As the campaign has progressed, Ian has displayed the intellectual and leadership qualities I had hoped to see and has earned the respect of the rest of the team. It is now the right time to move his role forward to that of Skipper where he will take on the overall leadership of the sailing team responsible for their on-the-water performance.'
David Barnes, General Manager for GBR Challenge, commented: `In my experience the role of Skipper is a very demanding one. Working with Ian over the last 14 months, I have seen him display the leadership skills, expertise and enthusiasm that are needed to fill this role. Ian and I share similar sailing backgrounds, both having sailed in Olympic classes for many years, we share many of the same goals, ideals and expectations from our teams. With Ian as Skipper, it strengthens our management structure and formalises the leadership of the sailing team.'
Walker takes up his new role with immediate effect, for the America's Cup International Regatta which marks the first time that GBR Challenge will officially compete in New Zealand waters. The regatta is being held on the Hauraki Gulf, the same place where Peter Harrison's GBR Challenge team will line up in October of this year for the Louis Vuitton Cup. Ian will act as Skipper on GBR 52 which is entering the regatta against Team New Zealand, One World, USA and Victory Challenge from Sweden. He will be sharing the helmsman role with Andy Green and Andy Beadsworth. Adrian Stead will be acting as tactician and the rest of the sailing team will be selected on a daily basis from the squad on a rotation basis.
Ian Walker, Skipper, expressed his feelings on this announcement: `I feel extremely honoured that Peter Harrison is giving me this opportunity and has the confidence in my abilities to make this announcement. I would also like to thank the whole sailing squad for showing their trust and respect in me. Equally I have absolute confidence in their abilities, after all a good Skipper is only as good as his team. I feel we have an incredibly talented and enthusiastic group of people in our whole team and I believe that GBR Challenge has the potential to go a long way - not only for this challenge but also for future campaigns.'