Round the world yachtswoman Tracy EDWARDS has joined forces with Qatar Sports International (QSI) to announce the first global sailing challenges to start and finish in the Middle East.
The announcement was made in Doha in conjunction with the official signing of the partnership contracts by HE Sheikh Jassim Bin Thamer Al Thani, Vice President of QNOC (Qatar National Olympic Committee ) and Tracy EDWARDS MBE.
Both the Oryx Cup non-stop race in 2005 and The QUEST in 2006 will now see the world's fastest and most advanced sailing vessels begin and end their circumnavigations in Doha, the capital city of Qatar.
The Oryx Cup had originally been planned to start from the Solent on Sunday 23 January 2005. The non-stop round the world race is open to multihulls of LOA 100 feet and greater and monohulls of 90 feet and greater. The prize for first place is US $1 million, the biggest cash prize in sailing history.
The Quest 2006 will start from Doha on 20 December 2006 to coincide with the staging of the Asian Games in Qatar. The race around the world will include several stop-over stages to be announced later this year. said Tracy.
The two challenges form a major part of the £38m four-year sailing programme agreed between Tracy EDWARDS and QSI last year. Tracy's new company Quest International Sports Events will be spending £18m on the two events through international partnerships designed to bring further investment into Qatar. she added.
As part of the announcement, Tracy confirmed her search for a Qatari sailor to take part in the challenges. "I hope not only to bring further investment and exposure for Qatar by organising these two new global events, but to bring recognition of Qatari sailors to the fore in the Middle East and the international sailing arena. By finding Qatari sailing talent and working with them, we hope the first Qatari round-the-world sailor will be an integral part of our events,"
During the announcement, Tracy unveiled initial designs for the Oryx Cup trophy by William Asprey, the renowned London jewellers.