AMERICA’S CUP

Standbridge Joins British Challenge

COWES-Bowman to management, Paul Standbridge has run the full gamut of his chosen profession. It’s almost 40 years since he first sailed and the last 23 have been as a professional and his resume includes five Whitbreads and an America’s Cup. Now Standbridge has decided to have another crack at the oldest international trophy in sport and has joined GBR Challenge as assistant to Ian Walker in the sailing team management.

Earlier this year, Standbridge completed his thirteenth Fastnet Race, as skipper of Gianni Agnelli’s 92-foot, all-carbon Stealth, taking line honours, and went on with mostly the same crew, in the same boat, to be first home in the America’s Cup Jubilee Regatta Round the Island Race, the recreation of the event 150 years earlier.

In 1987, Standbridge was the bowman of White Crusader, Britain’s last challenger for the America’s Cup. He had full knowledge and experience of the sailing and management of that effort and will carry that and his unparalleled experience into this latest tilt at the Cup. He had been sought after for some time to join the British effort and utilize his skills.

David Barnes, the general manager of GBR Challenge, recognized this, "As the organization has evolved," he said, "so to must the management resource. Paul was our number one target and we are very pleased that he has decided to join us. I think it says a lot about the increased profile of GBR Challenge that Paul has agreed to move his family to the other side of the world and become part of the team."

Standbridge, who skippered Dennis Conner’s Toshiba in the Whitbread four years ago, was married soon after that race and has already moved his wife and small son to Auckland where the British team is now based. "I was very excited to be approached by GBR Challenge," he said. "Having sailed with the last British Challenge, I know what’s involved and am looking forward to joining the team."

He does so as the announcement of the start of building of the one new boat is expected. The design team is spending a final three-week session at the Qinetiq facility at Haslar, near Gosport, prior to handing the final lines over to the building team. The British boat will be built in-house at the GBR Challenge Cowes base where a 100-foot-long oven has been specially constructed for the project. Whether the boat will be evolutionary or revolutionary is not yet known, but both avenues have been explored.