While most aspiring syndicates to the next Volvo Ocean Race focus on their behind-the-scenes efforts to shape their programmes, the first publicly announced effort from the USA is taking a decidedly different approach.
Team Kan-do, based in Annapolis, has adopted their moniker to describe a programme of performance based more on achievement and effort of their team members rather than relying solely on hired talent. The syndicate has structured itself as having a pool of pro-level advisors who have experience in the Volvo, Whitbread, America's Cup, and other top-echelon yachting competitions, who will train and coach a sailing team consisting of sailors who may be talented, but whose full potential has yet to be shown.
"We feel there is a talent base out there that has yet to be tapped,"
said syndicate partner John ALDEN. "The elite world of professional offshore sailing has many stars who got their start somewhere from a combination of talent, hard work, sacrifice, and opportunity. We hope to provide those aspiring to this level just such an opportunity."
Alden's partner in this venture, Patrick BISCHOFF, is a German who is also living in Annapolis and will be in charge of gathering the necessary talent needed for the programme. While having competed in numerous offshore competitions, Bischoff draws on his skills as a successful international business consultant and entrepreneur to formulate the team and its philosophy. "From my experience in the Internet business, you don't worry about the competitors you know, but the ones you don't know,"
he said. "It's the hungry guys working overtime in their garages that will come up with the next best thing, not the established players."
Yet Team Kan-do has been relying on many established players to assist them through the myriad of options in designers, builders, sail makers, and the like. Former Chessie Racing syndicate chairman George COLLINS, for example, has agreed to play an advisory role for Team Kan-do and has said they have "an excellent racing and business plan in place."
Moreover, like Chessie Racing did in the 1997-98 Whitbread, this syndicate has announced it will have a significant emphasis on an educational component which will incorporate "a comprehensive shore-side programme for learning and charity fund-raising, targeted at children, teenagers and their families around the globe,"
according to Alden. "Learning is key to personal and business success and we want our youthful target audience and their families to get hooked on following Team Kan-do around the world in the Mount Everest of sailing!"
At 30 months in length, Team Kan-do's proposed educational programme will indeed outlast the race "and we hope create lasting value for our potential sponsors,"
According to Alden, these targeted sponsors include "globally-integrated companies which are interested in expanding into new markets. These companies have great brand names which project positive images of family and youth,"
consistent with the operating philosophy of the programme. "Other teams will likely be giving sponsorship pitches from the sailing side of things, whereas we will be focusing on making our programme fulfill a sponsor's regional and global marketing needs."
Alden expects to raise US$16-18 million to support their effort, which they hope will start with crew training in early 2004. Currently the team is shopping for a used VO 60 to use as a platform for crew selection.
When asked how, with so comparatively little experience, they expect a podium finish in such a competitively demanding race as the Volvo, Bischoff is decidedly upbeat. "There are numerous sociological studies that indicate that optimists have a much higher probability of success than pessimists,"
he claims. "We will seek to have people on our team who share this vision and passion for success."