The countdown is on for the start of the Round Britain and Ireland Challenge 2004, as Crew Volunteers from across the country and further afield, make their way to Southampton, to find out who they will be racing with in just over a week's time.
On Saturday 112 crew found out which one of eight identical 72ft Global Challenge race yachts they will sail in and who will be their team mates for the non-stop circumnavigation around the notorious and dramatic coastline of Britain and Ireland.
Men and women from all walks of life are set for the adventure of their lives as they prepare to take up the challenge. Race week officially started on Saturday as the individuals come together as teams and start to prepare themselves, the yachts, their teams and their strategies.
The all important crew announcement will be taking place in Challenge Business' grand marquee. The Crew Volunteers will be equally matched, to make the race as even as possible throughout, and will have one week to come together as a race crew.
"This will only add to the excitement of the race,"
explains Simon WALKER, Challenge Business' Managing Director, "as individuals will have to gel very quickly as teams in order to make the all important difference to be the winning crew."
Race week will be a hectic time for the teams as race organisers have plenty in store to keep them busy, as well as entertained in true Challenge Business style!
As soon as the crew announcement is over the eight new crews, made up of one professional skipper, one professional mate and 14 Crew Volunteers, will make their way to 'their' yacht and start to get accustomed to what will be their homes and racing teams over the next three weeks.
This is the second time that the race has been run and follows the hugely successful inaugural race in 2003. Ben HANCOCK, a Crew Volunteer from this event, best sums up his experience of racing around Britain and Ireland:
"I was a Crew Volunteer on 'Spirit of Southampton' for the 2003 Round Britain Challenge. It has taken this long for me to realize exactly how much I enjoyed the whole experience and evaluate exactly what I gained from my involvement not just from a sailing perspective but more importantly on a personal level. I have developed a great sense of achievement, not just for myself but for what was achieved as a team.
"The experiences and memories I take with me from the race will live with me forever and I now share a close bond with many of those I sailed with.... I can definitely say that it changed my life."
Further details are available on the event website at the address below.