At the Paris Boat Show today, Ellen MacArthur and the Offshore Challenges team announced the thirteen crew who will be joining her on an attempt at the Round the World Speed Record early next year.
The international team is drawn from six nations and between them boast twenty circumnavigations of the globe. Speaking from the press conference today, Ellen said. "We have assembled a fantastic group of people with a very wide knowledge base. It's going to be very exciting and a learning experience for myself to sail with these guys, and I think a lot of fun as well."
The Fourteen Crew are as follows:
Ellen MacArthur - United Kingdom
Neal MacDonald - United Kingdom
Nick Moloney -Australia
Benoit Briand -France
Bruno Dubois - Canada
Anthony Merringto - Australia
Andrew Henderson - Australia
Damian Foxall - Ireland
Andrew Preece - United Kingdom
Ronan Le Goff - France
Hervé Jan - France
Jason Carrington -United Kingdom
Nigel King - United Kingdom
Guillermo Aitadill - Spain
There is no surprise about Ellen's No.2, with Neal MacDonald, skipper of Assa Abloy in the Volvo Ocean race this year taking on the role. Nick Moloney (AUS), fresh from his class two win in the Route du Rhum gets on the boat amongst a host of round the world sailors from both monohulls and multi's.
Four of the team were part of the crew who originally broke the sub 80 day record in 1993 on Commodore Explorer skippered by Bruno Peyron who, along with some of the crew from Kingfisher II, set the current record with an average speed of 18.15 knots on Orange.
Ellens new challenge is to take as many days as possible off the current record set by the same boat less than a year ago. But statistically, even to finish the Jules Verne course is difficult - even more so at a pace to set a new record.
Kingfisher2 was due to be based at the Galician port of Sanxenxo, North West Spain, for crew training and the workup, but due to the recent sinking of the oil tanker Prestige, this plan had to be cancelled. "It is with great regret that we can no longer go to what was an ideal training base in Sanxenxo,"
commented Project Director Mark Turner. "The town had offered fantastic support, the location further south and open to the Atlantic Ocean was ideal [it was the base for Illbruck's winning Volvo Ocean Race campaign], and the King of Spain was even hoping to join us for an outing! I am certain we will return there in the future, and our thoughts are with the local population whose livelihoods have been devastated by this terrible disaster."
An excellent replacement has been found though. The French maritime town of Lorient on the Biscay coast will be the team base for the work-up period, utilising the facilities of Le Defi French America's Cup base. Ellen is excited to be returning to Brittany."Brittany is where these five years of adventure really began for me with the Mini-Transat base in La Trinite. With Alain Gautier and the Foncia team I have also discovered Lorient, and with the great support of the town and base, we're really looking forward to four to six weeks of training from there."
The project will move to a port closer to the Jules Verne start line [set between the lighhouses at Lizard Point in south-west England and Ushant on the north west tip of France] in mid to late January 2003 [when ready] and await the green light from the weather routers.
"Without doubt the Jules Verne record is hard to beat - the combination of constantly having to find the right weather systems to keep moving at maximum
speed but avoiding the big stuff that could damage the boat is a hard call. These catamarans are speed machines, the loads are enormous and breakages can happen easily."
Kingfisher2 is currently in Cherbourg, France, having her new 39-metre carbon fibre mast - built by JMV Industries - fitted. The crew hope to set off on the shakedown sail to Lorient towards the end of next week.