Record breaking British round-the-world yachtswoman, Emma RICHARDS, today announced plans for her next major sailing challenge, the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06.
Richards, 29, is teaming up with America's Cup star Mike SANDERSON, and at the launch of their campaign in London, they announced an unexpected addition to their team in golfing legend, Colin MONTGOMERIE.
Montgomerie, star of Europe's victorious 2002 Ryder Cup team, is a keen follower of sailing and will join Richards and Sanderson's crew for one of the legs of the 30,000 nautical mile race. The 40-year old Scot, who headed the PGA European Tour's Volvo Order of Merit for seven years in a row, will also be lending his support to the team's search for sponsorship. They are currently in talks with a variety of multi-national companies in the hope of securing a £12 million three-year sponsorship deal.
Colin MONTGOMERIE said, "I am fiercely supportive of all Scottish sportspeople. I greatly admired Emma's inspirational solo circumnavigation last year, and feel privileged to be invited to become a member of her and Mike's team. I have said once before that I would love to take on a new challenge in my life such as competing in a major yacht race like the Volvo Ocean Race, but I never thought I would either have the time or the opportunity. I'm sure it's going to be one of the biggest challenges of my life, but also one that I will greatly enjoy.
"Depending on my schedule, I am aiming to sail on one of the legs of the race and possibly some of the in-port races, but before then I will be playing my part by helping Emma and Mike to secure the necessary sponsorship. Emma's participation in the Volvo Ocean Race would be great for British sport and is also a great marketing opportunity for the right sort of company."
Emma RICHARDS, who is bidding to make sporting history by becoming the first female skipper ever to win what is arguably the world's toughest sporting event, commented, "We are particularly thrilled that we are getting Colin's support in this project and his advice to help our search for sponsorship. We are building a team that can deliver a great return on investment to our sponsors both on and off the water but without the necessary funding we will not get to the starting line."
Speaking from Australia, Volvo Ocean Race CEO Glenn BOURKE, said, "The combination of Emma, Mike and Colin working together is extremely exciting for our event. Emma and Mike's proven track record at the highest level and Colin's prowess both on the golf course and in business will be a strong attraction for corporate partners who wish to be associated with successful sporting personalities. Colin has always said he wanted to compete in our race and now he will have the chance to experience an event which is unique and very different from his own sporting arena. It will be very refreshing for him to see how our sport operates. The complete contrast in the sporting qualities will be interesting to him and it will be a challenge requiring enormous strength of character for him to make the transition to a team sport after spending his sporting life as an individual performer."
Richards' co-skipper and joint project leader is Mike SANDERSON. Sanderson, 32, from New Zealand, will be the driving force behind the development and building of the boat for the campaign, and having already won the race once before, will form the basis of a formidable team.
Mike SANDERSON commented: "I am looking forward to what is a very exciting challenge. I think that with my technical knowledge of racing boats, together with Emma's experience and determination, we will have the best overall package to win this race."
The Volvo Ocean Race starts on November 5, 2005 from Vigo, Galicia on the northwest coast of Spain, and comprises nine gruelling legs and seven inshore races in stopover ports around the world.