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11 January 2005, 04:07 pm
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2005 Oryx Quest
Red Sea

As Tony BULLIMORE and his 'Daedalus' crew continue to make good progress down the Red Sea towards Doha in readiness for the start of Tracy Edwards' Oryx Quest 2005 round the world race, starting from the Qatar Capital on February 5, Tony has named South African Nick LEGGATT as his second watch leader, alongside Portugal's Gonzalos O'NEILL de Mello.
Nick has just the experience that Tony is looking for to maximise the performance of the 102ft maxi catamaran. Between 2002 and 2004, the 38 year-old played a key role in driving Steve FOSSETT'S 125ft catamaran Cheyenne (ex Playstation) to a series of world records including around the world in 58 days, 9 hours, 32mins, across the Atlantic from Cadiz to San Salvador during the Route of Discovery Race, and around Britain and Ireland. Having now sailed some 5,000 training miles on this delivery trip from Bristol, England, Tony has no doubts that Nick is the right man for the job.

'We work well together and when Nick and his team are on watch, l feel we are getting the most out of the boat.' says Tony, adding. 'Just as important, l feel confident that the boat is being driven well, very fast, but without that 'Gun Ho'out-of-control attitude when we are in high winds with big seas.'

Apart from Nick's vast experience, he is also well qualified in navigation, weather routing and on-deck procedures, and has the ability to set up systems to ensure the smooth running of the boat and good teamwork. Best of all he has proved to be a good driver in heavy weather - when it really counts.

During the past two days, the 'Daedalus' crew have experienced light winds, flat seas and a burning sun. That may sound great sailing conditions, but in reality, Tony and the boys are hell-bent on getting to Doha as quickly as possible to ready the Big Cat for the race ahead. Zulf JANNATTY, Tony's shore manager, who has gone along for the ride, put a fishing line over the side yesterday in the hope of catching lunch. No such luck. They finished up eating pasta, and not fried fish. Soon after, two fast powerboats with big outboards on the back suddenly appeared from nowhere and stopped a quarter of a mile ahead. These are pirate waters, and Tony reports a high degree of nervousness onboard. 'We kept going, and passed them with no more than a 200 yards between us. One of their number with a huge smile on his face, held up a big fish. We all smile, but kept going. We didn't want any trouble - or fried fish - at this stage!

'Lee BRUCE, 'Team Bullimore's' land-based weather router, predicted these light head winds. We hoped he would be wrong, but even from America where he is based, he called the conditions exactly right. He is predicting more wind later today, and can already feel the initial breeze on the side of our faces. Hopefully, we will be back in the fast lane later tonight.'

Barry Pickthall
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