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6 November 2001, 12:44 pm
Marital Bliss?
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Volvo Ocean Race

Marital harmony will be subjected to a unique test over the coming weeks as husband and wife Neal and Lisa McDonald take on a tactical battle through the most inhospitable ocean in the world as skippers of their own Volvo Ocean Race yachts.

In the last few days the McDonalds' assets have grown from one Volvo Ocean 60, to two. Next Sunday, they will square up against each other on the Cape Town start line (for leg two) as rival skippers, a first in the 30-year history of the former Whitbread race.

Neal has been thrust into the limelight as he takes over as co-skipper of ASSA ABLOY from the highly rated Dutchman Roy Heiner. Lisa continues to lead the Nautor Challenge women's team on Amer Sports Too.

It is considered that their Farr designed yachts are similar, but do they have the same agendas?

Neal McDonald may have taken over the helm under difficult circumstances but as a world class sailor in his own right, from Olympic to America's Cup and Whitbread standards, he is viewed as a worthy candidate for the one of the toughest jobs going.

"It's a difficult transition for me to make. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about it. I'm very proud and pleased to have the confidence installed in me by our management team," reflected Neal, who joined the ASSA ABLOY Racing Team just two months before the start after leaving GBR Challenge, Great Britain's America's Cup syndicate.

This will be his third circuit of the globe but his first as skipper with any sailing campaign. He was a valued and respected crewmember for the 1997-1998 Silk Cut Whitbread campaign and on Grant Dalton's maxi catamaran, Club Med, winner of The Race at the beginning of this year.

Neal's task is now to pull together a talented, experienced and driven team that started the event as favourites but came into Cape Town a lacklustre fifth. His new position as skipper is for the rest of the Volvo Ocean Race but, given the circumstances, will be confirmed in Sydney following leg two.

Mrs McDonald also has a challenging task as she attempts to lift her all - female crew from bottom of the rankings against seven other more experienced crews over a leg that will benefit the hardened veterans. But Lisa's team have already proved they are fast learners.

For better or for worse, Mr and Mrs McDonald will certainly have plenty to reminisce over with any children for years to come.
Volvo Ocean Race Press/News Editor
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