Lucky Fan Becomes BMW's 18th Man

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Bmw Oracle Racing

A casual visit to by Jonathan Andrews recently turned into the ride of this 43-year-old utility consultant's life.Andrews, from Sugar Land, Texas, was one of more than 1,000 web site visitors who entered the prize draw for the 18th man ride on board BMW ORACLE Racing's USA 98. He answered five questions correctly about the team on the website, and was lucky enough to be drawn from all those people who have submitted the correct answers.The prize he won is unique in sport: every race or training day one lucky spectator gets to watch the action up close and personal, riding on board as the 18th man. It's like riding shotgun in an F1 car--without question, the best seat in the house. On Wednesday, this seat was reserved for Jonathan Andrews."It was awesome," Jonathan said after returning to the team base this afternoon. "I never will forget this day. Everybody gave me a warm welcome and they answered all my questions - and I had many," he laughs. "I have been aboard USA 98 today, with Chris (Dickson) at the helm and Eric (Doyle), a fellow American, being the strategist. We started the day with an in-house training match race. It was spectacular. Going through a dial-up with these boats is something you simply can't describe."Although Jonathan is no world class racer, he is an avid sailor. "I hold US Sailing Certifications through Bareboat Charter, including Coastal Navigation," he says. "I have sailed for about 20 years and I have raced on the Chesapeake Bay and on the San Francisco Bay in local regattas."Jonathan is a fairly active man - he loves hiking, biking, golf and tennis - but what he saw today aboard USA 98 was breathtaking, he said. "I really was impressed by the coordination of the team. I have never seen such a fine-tuned crew work before. Everybody knows exactly what his job is in any given situation."The American will return to Valencia in June. "I will come back and want to see the guys racing again in the Louis Vuitton Cup finals. In the meantime I will promote the America's Cup within my friends. I think, at home the event is not the big deal it should be. I'll do my part to change that," he laughs. "I wish the team nothing but steady wins!"