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Thomson joins crew of John Merricks II for BB2

Friday, 18 April 2008

World renowned Vendee Globe skipper, Alex Thomson, will bid to help the sailors from the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme taste Raymarine Warsash Big Boat Spring Championship success as he joins the crew of John Merricks II this weekend.


The Programme’s newly-acquired TP52 currently heads the 18-strong Championship fleet at the halfway point having claimed impressive 3-1-2-7 results from the Series’ opening four races a fortnight ago on what was only her second competitive outing under the Programme banner.


And with the sailors’ sights firmly on consolidating their midway position when BB2 gets underway on Saturday (19 April), Hugo Bossskipper Thomson, a long-term supporter of the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme, will help the sailors in their quest to get the best out of John Merricks II.


Thomson, who became the youngest skipper ever to win a round-the-world yacht race in sailing to 1998-1999 Clipper Race glory, remembers how hard it was in the early days of his sailing career and is proud to be involved with initiatives such as the Keelboat Programme, that help young sailors develop within the maritime industry. 


He said: “The Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme sailors have been offered a fantastic opportunity to further develop their sailing with the acquisition of the TP52, John Merricks II, and I am looking forward to being introduced to the boat this weekend.


“I have always really enjoyed working with the Programme sailors whose enthusiasm and willingness to listen and learn makes sailing with them a real pleasure. There are some very talented sailors in the Programme squads and if they can use my experience and advice to help them progress then I am more than happy to be in a position for them to do that.”


The Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme was launched in 2003 to provide the opportunity for talented young sailors aged between 16 -24 to break into the world of keelboat sailing. The current Programme comprises 47 sailors across three squads.


Later this month, Programme members Tom Davidson and Douglas Abernethy, who were both new recruits to the 2007-08 Programme last September, will also join the crew of Alex Thomson Racing’s Volvo 60, Hugo Boss II, for a delivery to Southern France while a number of other delivery opportunities are also in the pipeline for Programme sailors during the summer.


In December, Programme National Squad sailor Nick Cherry and Programme mentor Rachel Howe competed in the Sydney to Hobart Race on Hugo Boss II.


RYA Racing Services Manager David Atkinson said: “We are very grateful to Alex for once again making himself available to come to sail with the Programme. Alex not only has a wealth of top level big boat knowledge and expertise but he is also an inspirational figure to the young people coming through the Programme.


“Having Alex onboard John Merricks II this weekend will undoubtedly lead to the sailors upping their game even further as well giving them unparalleled access to advise from one of the World’s best.”


Full crew list John Merricks II, Raymarine Warsash Big Boat Spring Championship 2 (19-20 April):

Bow Henry Boyle
Mid Bow Chris Dorey
Mast Jack Hunter
Crew boss Luke McCarthy

Sewer Becky Sands

Trim 1 Adam Wallace 
Trim 2 Sally Olsen

Grind 1 Andy Rodden
Grind 2 Chris Cooper
Pit 1 Lauren Martel
Pit 2 Tim Jestico
Main Caddy Nick Bishop
Main ‘H’ Poole
Helm Colette Blair
Strategy/backstay Alex Thomson
Tactics Tom Smedley
Nav Dave Newey


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