The southern hemisphere will mount its strongest challenge for many years in the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race. Two teams, one from Australia and one from Brazil, are preparing to build boats.
The Australian team, Premier Challenge, headed by Grant WHARINGTON, has secured sufficient funding to commence testing and boat construction. Don Jones, designer of Wharington's highly successful super-maxi "Skandia" has been appointed as Chief Designer and construction of the boat is set to begin in Australia in October.
Brazilian Olympian, Torben GRAEL, will lead Brasil1. The team has secured the majority of its funding and plans to announce its designers and builders once discussions with sponsors are concluded in due course. Designers under consideration are Farr Yacht Design and Mani Frers.
Wharington and Grael both have practical experience of this great ocean classic: Wharington raced a southern ocean leg onboard djuice in 2001-02, while Grael, who has won gold, silver and bronze Olympic medals, sailed with Norwegian Knut FROSTAD onboard Innovation Kvaerner in 1997-98.
"We can't wait to begin construction of our new VO 70"
says Wharington, continuing, "such a step clarifies our position and demonstrates our determination to be on the start line for Australia in November 2005. Our "Team Australia" sponsorship model is being well received and recognised by Australian business as an invaluable way of exploiting the worldwide interest in this event. We are confident current discussions will end positively and expect more to come."
Grael says he is looking forward to the challenge in every respect. "I am very pleased to be part of this project: it shows the potential accomplishment of Brazilian sports."
Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Glenn BOURKE, is delighted to have such a strong showing from the southern hemisphere. The changes to the race format which include in-port racing, scoring gates and pit stops, largely initiated by Bourke in consultation with past and future competitors, are now paying off as the event sees increased interest from sailors and investors around the world.
To have five boats going into production 17 months ahead of the start is great news,"
says Bourke, and adds: "The way the entries are rolling in, we can all look forward to this event being the most successful event in recent history. Get yourselves ready for some more announcements."
Prior to Wharington and Grael's announcements, two premier international brands - Spanish telecoms, Telefónica and Dutch bank, ABN AMRO - have signed up to support three race entries.
Full details are available on the event website at the address below.