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AC36: One hears Grant Simmer is joining Land Rover BAR as GM, re-uniting with his mate Ben Ainslie; are things heating up between the Defender and COR over the design of the AC75?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO – Your Ed. is reliably informed via friends in Sydney and Europe that Grant Simmer (AUS), who has been involved in the America's Cup since at least 1983 when he was a sailor with Royal Perth Yacht Club's AUSTRALIA II when they lifted the Cup from New York Yacht Club, has joined Ben Ainslie's Land Rover BAR as GM of the team. He served ORACLE TEAM USA in the same capacity for the 2013 win in San Francisco and their 2017 loss in Bermuda. If memory serves he also won the Cup twice with SNG's Alinghi, in 2003 and 2007, as a team executive and design team leader. The status of LRBAR's ostensible CEO from 2017, Martin Whitmarsh (GBR, whom your Ed. first met when Mr Whitmarsh was an executive with the McLaren F1 team in the late 90s and early 00s) is not clear. 

 

The crew of AUSTRALIA II with the RPYC Commodore (left), skipper John Bertrand (center) and syndicate head Alan Bond (right) after winning the 1983 Cup in Newport, RI. Mr. Simmer, the team's navigator, is back row, left.

 

Mr Simmer's AC experience will be a big boost to LRBAR, especially in the design area where they obviously struggled during AC35. His appointment will also give the AC tea-leaf readers and pundits, especially in AUS and NZL, something to ponder on and pontificate about while awaiting the briefing of potential AC teams later this month by the Defender and Challenger of Record on progress for the AC36 yacht.

 

Some will suggest that Grant's being sucked up by LRBAR strikes a blow for any potential challenger from his home country of Australia, and that may well be true. Others will see it as a sure sign that Larry Ellison and OTUSA are kaput, but Mr Ellison is not known for sticking with losing leadership – the team lost in 2017, and, truth be told, barely won in 2013 when Russell Coutts (NZL) had brought Mr Simmer into OTUSA halfway through that Cup cycle to bolster management. 

 

So congrats to Mr Simmer on landing yet another AC managerial job with his close friend from the 2013 OTUSA campaign, Ben Ainslie. Recall, too, that Grant was CEO of the on again, off again Team Origin (GBR), put together by Sir Keith Mills (now a LRBAR principal) for the 2013 Cup, that never made it to the starting line. Simmer was brought in to replace Mike "Moose" Sanderson (NZL), the original Team Origin CEO, in May of 2010 a few months after OTUSA won the 2010 Cup against Alinghi at Valencia, ESP.

 

One also hears that friction has developed between the Defender, RNZYS/ETNZ, who are pushing some rather, shall we say, progressive ideas about the previously-announced "75-foot high performance monohull," and the Challenger of Record, who are keen to have a more traditional monohull yacht. As they say, whatever floats your boat and, er, swings your keel. NYYC must also be scratching their heads and more, and re-checking their team's AC36 budget, over the rumors coming out of Auckland about how hard the Kiwis are pushing the design frontier for the next AC yacht. Developing....

 

Grant Simmer, right, was OTUSA GM for the 2013 and 2017 Cups. Seen here with Aussie Tom Slingsby who has been quietly trying to put together an Australian team for the 2021 Cup in New Zealand. Obviously such a team, if it happens, will not now involve Mr Simmer. Photo: Sam Greenfield / OTUSA.

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