Neal and Lisa MCDONALD (GBR) have today formally announced their intention to lead a team in the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006. This will be the first time in the history of round the world races that a husband and wife will co-skipper an entry.
The British-based sailors were both skippers in the last Volvo Ocean Race - of Assa Abloy and Amer Sports Too respectively. They have decided to harness their combined experience of competition in the world's top sailing events to lead their own team with the aim of winning the event.
Neal commented, "For both of us the Volvo Ocean Race is unfinished business. We have been involved in five campaigns between us but this time we want to win."
"We have decided to sail together because we know it works. There is an intuition between us that goes with years of sailing and living together."
"The Volvo Ocean Race really matters to us and I know we can win it,"
"We have sailed in the same events, often as competitors. For us it is our job - we just happen to do the same sort of job at the same level. However, this event is not just a job, it is part of your life and winning the race is our life,"
To exploit the explosive combination of their technical and sailing abilities the pair have recruited a formidable project management team of professionals and consultants who will work on finding commercial partners for the campaign and manage the business aspects.
"In some ways the decisions we have taken over the last months in appointing this group will be among the most important we will make in this campaign, because they will determine whether we get in the race or not,"
"We know that we have to be more than sailors to run a successful campaign so we have formed a team that includes businessmen, financial and legal experts and television, media and PR professionals who all have previous experience of this event.
"We intend to not only win the race on the water, but also to give our commercial partners the best possible return on their investment by delivering a complete sports marketing package."
Neal and Lisa are respectful of each other's sailing ability with Lisa describing Neal as her 'sailing hero' and her husband in awe of her ability to grasp the 'big picture' and the complexities of navigation and meteorology.
They intend to select a sailing team from the crème de la crème of professional sailors to be drawn from Olympic champions, America's Cup and Round the World Race sailors and are confident of being able to attract the best.
Neal and Lisa have appointed Howard Gibbons and Eleanor Mordaunt to project manage the syndicate. Howard brings an invaluable wealth of knowledge and experience to the team from three previous round the world races while Eleanor has raced competitively across the globe including race crew and team manager for Amer Sports Too in the last Volvo Ocean Race.
The team is now looking for commercial partners to fund the multi-million pound three year campaign to win the world's most prestigious yacht race.
Commenting on the announcement Glenn BOURKE, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race said, "Neal and Lisa exemplify the very best in ocean racers. They are highly talented sailors, proven leaders of commercially successful teams and warm charismatic human beings. Having the Volvo Ocean Race as their first choice further reinforces its stature as the world's leading ocean race. All these factors create an incredibly attractive package for sponsors."
Recent research commissioned by Volvo Ocean Race has identified that 39% of the UK population are aware of Ocean Racing because of events like the Volvo Ocean Race. This compares favourably with 41% awareness for Formula One."
(" Source Sports Marketing Surveys)
The Volvo Ocean Race will start in November 2005 from the Mediterranean.