Mike Sanderson leaves TeamOrigin

[Updated] Sir Keith Mills decides to restructure the British America's Cup team

Wednesday May 19th 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom

TeamOrigin last night issued the following statement:

TeamOrigin announced today that Mike Sanderson has left the team following the decision by Sir Keith Mills, Team Principal, to restructure the organisation.

This decision has been taken to ensure that the team functions as effectively and efficiently as possible, in order to improve the team’s performance and ultimately win the America’s Cup.

Mike has been with the team since it was formed in 2007. He has made a huge contribution to establishing what has been a relatively new team and has worked hard to keep the team together over the last three years while the America’s Cup was in the courts. Sir Keith and the team wish Mike every success in the future.

This morning Sanderson kindly picked up the phone to us as he was midway through evacuating his family from La Maddalena where TeamOrigin are currently training prior to next week's start of the Louis Vuitton Trophy.

The crux of the reasons for Sanderson’s departure seem to be over differing ideas between him and other senior team members within TeamOrigin. Sanderson was given the news by Sir Keith Mills on Monday, the team told about his departure at a group conference call on Tuesday evening.

“Keith comes from a footballing management world as well and at the end of the day the team’s performance was always going to be my responsibility and I wasn’t happy with the results we were getting either. That is tricky because I’ve always been public that my role was to provide a platform to do their work. My frustration is that I believe we’ve had that platform so obviously I am pretty disappointed with the way this has panned out,” Sanderson told thedailysail

One wonders if this wasn’t also due to cultural differences – the lead people in the sailing team being British and coming from an Olympic background, while New Zealander Sanderson has considerable experience in the America’s Cup but is best known for his Volvo Ocean Race record, where of course he won with ABN AMRO One in 2005-6.

Certainly running such a Cup team is a very tough job requiring technical and sailing experience as well as the firm hand of management.

“It is a tough job,” agrees Sanderson. “You do need a wide variety of knowledge so that you can have the final say on where funds are allocated. People with less knowledge in a specific area, if they don’t understand it, it is very hard for them to work out why a decision is being made. In hindsight I don’t think the decisions we’ve made have been bad or wrong... So a lot of it seems to be – it is just really hard, I am struggling to get to the bottom of it.

“I have put so much into this. One of the biggest disappointments for me leaving TeamOrigin is the disproportionate amount of effort put in to have this result. There are three, four, five of us who have toughed it out for the last three years while others have been able to go off and do others things and come back to it when it suited them. So that is pretty disappointing.

“It was one of those situations where you take all of the heat and you don’t get to enjoy the highs. We didn’t have that many of them and it seemed that that kind of environment, I wasn’t able to shake that.”

At present it seems that Sir Keith Mills has made no appointment to replace Sanderson, although this is expected soon. In the interim it seems likely a combination of Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy will step into his shoes, which of course includes the LV Trophy in La Maddelena, starting next week. Sanderson's departure might also see the beginning of an anglicising of TeamOrigin, which could be important if nationality rules are reintroduced into the America’s Cup teams to some degree - something we'll only find out in the autumn when the Protocol for the event is published.

With a few Volvo Ocean Race programs still to show themselves, one suspects that Sanderson won’t be on the sidelines for long.

We are due to speak to Sir Keith Mills later today.

So who will replace Moose? Ian Walker? Rod Carr? Further suggestions below

Latest Comments

  • ptweetybus 21/05/2010 - 19:27

    Sorry to see Moose go, but if that's what the boss wants, that's what he gets! Let's hope this isn't a thinly veiled purging of 'Foreigners' from the team because in that case Pablo (POL), Nick Bice (AUS), Julian Cressant would have to go as well to name a few as would newly appointed Juan Villa (ESP) on the TP and Peter Isler (USA), we'll see!
  • magnuswheatley 21/05/2010 - 13:53

    Good riddance. The team can move on now. Ian - no. Sid - no. Jim Salts - no. Grant Simmer - possible.
  • PR Works 20/05/2010 - 12:00

    I am another surprised supporter to learn that Moose has been removed from his post and agree with Tim Sewell and others that we should collectively thank him for what he has achieved for the Team thus far, hanging in there through thick and thin, and support him in his next venture. However, we also need to fully support our Team going forward under whichever guiding hand remains steady as she blows. Rod's got steady hands... and some time on them now!
  • piersdudin 19/05/2010 - 19:17

    Sir Keith Mills... more like Sir Alan Sugar... 'YOU'RE FIRED!' Big shame. Sanderson is a LEGEND and has clearly shown huge commitment to the team. How he's kicked out without a formal press release is very odd. PS The Cascais TP52 event made great veiwing- Thank you.
  • 184849 19/05/2010 - 15:38

    Rod Carr to start with, hopefully sabilize and make sure some British faces get a fair chance to make the team!
  • KingMonkey 19/05/2010 - 13:46

    As the team grows, seems to me that Moose needs replacing with a number of people: 1. Head coach 2. Head of design coordination 3. Head honcho The head coach should be someone well known to the afterguard already. The other two roles should feature a whole lot of cup experience between them.
  • Wacka Elvis 19/05/2010 - 13:35

    Can't see that Walker would be right - he is from a different 'set' and is much proficent as a sailor than manager (see decisions from GBR Challenge)... Much better to look to either Rod Carr or Jim Saltenstall - great at creating an environment that supports the sailors whilst pushing them hard to succeed. Alternatively, Simmer would be a stong choice but again - cultural issues may follow...
  • James Boyd 19/05/2010 - 12:51

    okay - can we have some suggestions for replacement please? Ian Walker has been cited, but its been pointed out to me that there may have been an issue with him and Ben/Perce pre-GBR Challenge days. Alinghi head honcho Grant Simmer? Venerable coach Sid Howlett? Who best to herd the cats?
  • TimSewell 19/05/2010 - 12:48

    Such decisions are never taken lightly and will have been thought through at length and taken in the best interests of making Team Origin a winning one. We should all respect the work Moose has done at the Team and wish him well and support him in his next venture. Likewise we should remain right behind Team Origin and whoever steps up to the position of leading the team in the quest to bring the America's Cup back to Britain.
  • schooner 19/05/2010 - 12:19

    The America's Cup never fails to disappoint with intrigue even when it disappoints with news
  • KingMonkey 19/05/2010 - 11:46

    Genuinely shocked by this news and find it hard to comment before we've heard Keith Mills' put-in, but sacking Moose, which is clearly what has happened, after two events - Auckland on the WSTA and the Cascais TP52 - of their first "proper" year together as a team is very strong coffee. It will be interesting seeing the muck fall out of this. Is this a Mills / Moose clash or something that has happened on the boat.
  • bdu98252 19/05/2010 - 11:37

    Team origin will never win the cup with Ainslie and Percy leading the team. Any team that has been successful has always had a strong management and a team of sailors that are part of a selection process. With Ainslie's position in the team cemented this is like Man U with 10 players picked before the start of the season. A situation that Fergie would not relish.
  • MikeBz 19/05/2010 - 10:32

    "Evaculating" - that's a great new word! Ian Walker is the man for the job surely - although he really should be on the sailing team so maybe that wouldn't solve the problem entirely. Mike

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