Week 1 at GBR Challenge

Jo Grindley looks back on the first week of employment for Britain's America's Cup squad

Monday March 12th 2001, Author: Jo Grindley, Location: United Kingdom
Week one of the GBR Challenge and the two Japanese America’s Cup boats are not due in for another 10 days. Even so, the whole team assembled for the first time on Monday 5 March at what is now GBR Challenge’s headquarters in Cowes, on the site formally know as FBM shipyard.
Wrangling have been going on for months to purchase the site from its Hong Kong/ Chinese owners. Rumours in Cowes have abounded; the Harbour Commission wanted it to remain as a working boat yard, property developers were itching to turn the area into a water frontage marina and housing facility. But once it was known that Peter Harrison and his GBR Challenge were interested in the site, the Cowes community knew this was a good move for the town. All parties stepped aside and put their full support behind the bid, and so FBM became GBR Challenge.

The week started with a team meeting, the first time the whole team had gathered under one roof. The daily trip for team members living in Hamble and the surrounding area will now be aboard the newly-acquired Nelson 45 motorboat, bought by the Challenge to ferry crew members back and forth to the Island.

The site needed clearing up in anticipation for the arrival of the boats and the spare hands of sailors with no boats to sail yet were put to good use. The design team though, has been hard at it for months now, and are already well into their tank testing programme. They have spent hours analysing past America’s Cup footage at their new offices within the compound. It would be hard to see from walking past the yard what will eventually lie inside - padlocks secure every gate and entrance, with the need for security obvious.

Sailing manager Ian Walker, though, is keen for the project to be as open as possible with maybe even a visitors’ centre in the future. He wants the British sailing community and general public to get behind the project understands the need to be open. Of course once the building of the new boat starts later on this year the need for security will be increased, with not even all the sailors given access to the build site.

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