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17 April 2003, 10:52 am
Final Preparations Underway For Start on Saturday
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Round Britain Challenge 2003

Following the successful completion of yesterday's RORC inspections, the team now have only 48 hours before they leave Ocean Village Marina, Southampton, and motor to the start of the Round Britain Challenge.
Yesterday, the eight identical 72ft Challenge boats poised to begin their Round Britain Challenge on Saturday underwent a stringent independent safety inspection, carried out by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC).

Anxiety and anticipation seem to be the two words on the lips of many on the dockside as preparations reach their conclusion, ready for the start on 19 April..

This morning, as every morning, starts with a meeting between the Race Management, Technical Teams and the skippers and mates. Today they are joined by Dr Campbell MacKenzie, Challenge Business Medical Officer and a crew member from each yacht who is a medic for a safety/medical safety briefing.

During the rest of today, each yacht has the opportunity for a few hours of final race training (the yachts have not been at sea since returning from the race training on Monday). Whilst this evening sees the farewell party, an opportunity to relax.

Tomorrow morning starts with the crew briefing with the rest of day either spent doing last minute jobs or some free time for the crews.

Following the detailed and rigorous safety checks undertaken by the team of RORC inspectors, Matthew Ratsey Technical Director of Challenge Business was said to be "delighted" with the outcome.

The RORC inspectors had complimented Challenge Business on the extremely high standard that had been achieved throughout the fleet. "We take these inspections very seriously and I am delighted that they were very impressed with the level", explained Matthew.

Leaving Southampton on Saturday 19 April 2003, the fleet races around Great Britain & Ireland in a clockwise direction. Once in the English Channel the fleet race along the English coastline, before crossing the Irish Sea towards the notorious Fastnet Rock. Once around the Rock, the fleet face the full force of the Atlantic Ocean as they head up toward St Kilda, one of the most western outposts of the UK, then on to Muckle Flugga on the northernmost tip of the Shetland Islands, at almost 61° north.

From there it's south again passing between the numerous oilrigs stationed in the North Sea. Once around East Anglia the fleet hug the coast as they pass the Thames Estuary and then make their way in to the English Channel, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Finally, on an anticipated date of 3 May 2003, the fleet return to Southampton, after sailing almost 2000 miles.
The race will take place on an eight strong fleet of Global Challenge 72ft Race Yachts, which are all identical. They will be sailed by a crew of 16 crew volunteers, plus a professional skipper and first mate.
Round Britain Challenge Media/ISAF Secretariat
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