Kirkland brothers announce break-up

The 49er sailing team of Jesse and Zander Kirkland has been dissolved and the boat in which the pair made their Olympic debut put up for sale.

The brothers made the stunning announcement less than 24 hours after ending their 2012 Olympic campaign in Dorset, UK.

At age 29, crewman Zander feels the time is right to begin channeling his energy elsewhere.

“I’m done in the 49er,” he declared. “I’m getting older and I think I have to try and a get a career kick started.”

The certified youth sailing coach is pondering a move back to the US west coast.

“I plan to move to San Francisco, California to possibly explore some job opportunities,” Zander said.

In response to his elder brother’s decision to walk away from the 49er, skipper Jesse said: “As a brother I have to respect his decision. I can respect where he’s coming from because it takes a lot of sacrifice and you have to give up a lot in order to do this the right way.

“We have done a tremendous thing together in this boat and now it’s important that we keep our heads high.”

Zander, the elder of the Kirkland brothers, said he had no regrets walking away from the high performance dinghy.

“I have no regrets because this has been one hell of a serious mission and we worked extremely hard the entire time,” he said. “We started from ground zero and so to go from nothing to getting a top ten at the world championships and qualifying for the Olympics is a huge achievement.”

Skipper Jesse intends to take a lengthy break from competitive racing in the 49er skiff before possibly launching a bid to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“I plan to take a break for a year and hopefully come back to begin preparing for Rio,” he said. “I’d definitely like to go for Rio but obviously we have some big shoes to fill with Zander gone.”

The past All-American college sailor has already identified some potential replacements for his brother but has opted to keep their names under wraps for the time being.

Unlike his younger brother, Zander reckoned his days of competing on the Olympic stage are over.

“I’m done with the Olympics because I’ve seen how much effort and sacrifices you need to do to qualify,” he said. “It’s very hard trying to balance an Olympic campaign with your career.

“But I’m still going to sail because I love the sport and I just hope Bermuda continues with the younger guys in the skiffs.”

To avoid paying huge costs to either store or ship their 49er (Cahow) back home, the Kirklands have decided to sell the high performance dinghy instead.

“The plan is to try and liquidate the boat before it depreciates,” Zander said. “Boat storage and shipping is very expensive so this is the most practical thing to do.”

Jesse said his still new 49er served the team well.

“She had a great life and did a great job,” he said. “She will always be in our hearts.”

The Kirklands finished 19th in the 20-boat 49er fleet on their Olympic debut in the UK where they managed an impressive four top-ten finishes after making a sluggish start to the regatta.

“Our preparation was good . . . we just got a couple of bad breaks,” Zander said. “But we still have some happy memories because we put together some good races and good results out there.”

Jesse said one his most cherished memories sailing with his brother was qualifying for the Olympics at this year’s World Championships in Croatia.

“We had a great spring which culminated with a great regatta in Croatia where we achieved our goal of Olympic qualification that we set out to achieve in 2009,” he said.

The Kirklands signalled their arrival on the big stage after finishing ninth at those championships.

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Published Aug 8, 2012 at 8:28 am (Updated Aug 8, 2012 at 8:27 am)

Kirkland brothers announce break-up

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