Bound for Glory?

John Buchan and his Seattle-based crew will be racing against the professionals of the Medcup. "First Beat" from our May 30, 2007, /SW eNewsletter/.

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Ruben Ballester/hublot Palmavela 2007

There will be a new player in the 2007 Breitling MedCup: John Buchan's Glory crew from Seattle. Given that this effort is largely home-grown, and predominantly amateur, it would be easy to dismiss their chances of scoring well in what has become the most competitive grand-prix sailing circuit in the world. However, this boat is stocked with talent. Buchan comes from one of the foremost sailing families on the West Coast. His brother Bill Buchan is a multiple Star world champ and won a gold medal in the Star Class at the 1984 Olympics. Bill's son Carl, who will be the Glory team's tactician, also won a gold medal in those games, sailing with Jonathan McKee in the Flying Dutchman. Carl Buchan won the Star Worlds in 1992. Also on the Glory crew is Fritz Lanzinger, a veteran of the 505 and skiff circuits, and Mark Brink, a J/24 and Laser champion. Whether they can beat the experienced, fully professional teams that make up many of the top programs in the MedCup remains to be seen. But don't expect this team to be intimidated.John Buchan's first foray into the TP 52 circuit came a year and a half ago, when he chartered the TP 52 Braveheart for 2006 Acura Key West Race Week. Though the team finished eighth of nine boats there and then repeated that finish at the class's Global Championship in Miami, this time with the refurbished Yassou, the hook had been set. This spring, Buchan and project manager Andrew Koch took delivery of a new Hakes Marine-built Judel/Vrolijk design. The boat was constructed in the same molds that produced Mean Machine, which Peter de Ridder sailed to the 2006 Breitling MedCup overall championship. In what we hope will be the first of many interviews with the Glory team, Koch gave us a rundown on the program, some of the people involved, and some of the decisions they made when building the boat.How did this MedCup program come to be?We recently got back into grand-prix sailing after buying one of the 1D48s. We sailed that very successfully here in Seattle, then on a whim trip down to Mexico we stopped in San Diego and had a look at actually the first Transpac 52, a Bruce Nelson design completed in 2001, called Yassou. It was just such a gorgeous hot boat compared to most of the other boats we were familiar with, so we kind of bought it right there on the spot. I took it apart in San Diego and brought it back to Seattle. Our first sail was in snow and sleet here in Seattle and we sort of decided that was a fun thing to do with the boat and we ended up chartering a boat for Key West and did that event and got our first taste of excitement on the boat and immediately started refitting Yassou at Goetz.This is largely an amateur program?Yes. Carl and Fritz and the majority of the crew are considered amateur sailors. I have four guys that are pretty much full-time working on the boat. I guess you could call them my pros. But the rest of the guys are amateurs from here in the Seattle area. So it's a pretty exciting team for everyone on the team to put together a pretty fast boat and go out and see how we do against the best sailors in the world.For more of this interview with Koch, in audio form, click here.