Round the world yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur could be just one of sailing's star names taking part in a prestigious new race between England, Great Britain and Bermuda.
It is hoped the current ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year will be among 50 competitors who will take part in the two-handed race which will run from Plymouth on the south-west coast of England to Bermuda in June 2003. The race used to run between Plymouth and Newport, Rhode Island, but organisers are hoping the new destination will inject fresh enthusiasm for the event. It has already been accepted as part of the FICO (Forum International de la Course Oceanique) World Championship and will be run on a four yearly basis.
Race Director John Lewis, of the Royal Western Yacht Club of England, said "This race will be part of the FICO World Championship and other races under that umbrella are the Vendee Globe, the Volvo Round the World Race, the Route de Rum and other oceanic races of which our single-handed transatlantic race is part," he said.
Lewis said the 2,800 mile trip involving boats between 35 and 60 feet, would, in his estimation, be as arduous as a single-handed race. As a result he expected the cream of the crop to take part. "We expect to attract the professional element of the Open 60s, certainly some of those people who competed in the Vendee Globe and other such races," he said.
"I think it is good for Bermuda and will be good fun not only for those who live here but for the skippers as well," he said. "It will be exciting and I can't wait to see these boats sail."