Lunch with… superyacht owner Niklas Zennström
by Mark Chisnell
Zennström started putting together what would become the Rán team; the first goal was the 2007 Fastnet Race.
A taste of success came in the season opener, a Royal Ocean Racing Club race that they won. The momentum built, and many of those who joined Zennström then are still with him now. But then came the first setback. During a tough Fastnet the boat took water into the engine, which refused to start. With no means of charging the batteries and no navigation lights or electronics they had to turn back.
It was a big disappointment, but you get more motivated, reflects Zennström.
The Martin 49 was retired for cruising; the next boat would be a racing boat, pure and simple.
It was a 22m Mini Maxi, commissioned from Judel/Vrolijk in September 2007. But with the launch of what would become Rán I(named after the sea goddess in Norse mythology) 18 months away, Zennström wasnt about to kick his heels.
The TP52s had a very successful circuit in the UK at the time, and the team identified it as a great environment to build experience. They bought a boat from the grand prix Med Cup circuit and set about racing Rán I through 2008.
It took some time to start helming the boat myself, said Zennström. The TP52 is a powerful boat, the pre-start is quite intimidating and I spent the first few times observing.
I started to do more and more; I didnt do the start, I took over sometimes during the race.
They raced Cowes and Cork Week, down in Saint-Tropez, and took the Martin 49 to the Caribbean.
All this time, Rán Iwas under construction at Green Marine near Southampton, UK. The main objective with the new boat was to sort out unfinished business with the Fastnet Race, while also competing on the Mediterranean Mini Maxi circuit, culminating in the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship in Sardinia.
Rán Iswept all before her, winning the 2009 Fastnet.
It was a big moment for us, to win that race, that was great, says Zennström.
They then won the professional driver award at the Mini Maxi World Championship in 2009, and followed that up in December with a Division I win in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart.
Zennström was interested in improving still further.
I realised I needed to get as much time as possible on the water. But how to get more time? We decided to get the Farr 45.