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4 April 2003, 04:11 pm
Crews in Preparation
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Round Britain Challenge
Southampton

Round Britain Challenge Crew Volunteers are gearing themselves up for this weekend's preliminary race - from Plymouth to Southampton.
Crews will never have sailed together before, let alone raced, so adrenaline and nerves are on an all time high as they make their way down to England's south coast. The eight skippers and eight mates have been in Plymouth all week preparing their yachts for tomorrow's off and are now keen to trial their hard work.

"We're very excited in anticipation for the run up to the race," explained Stuart Jackson, mate aboard Vail Williams. "After exhaustive preparations we're now ready to build together as a team and looking to work out the best individual roles aboard the yacht and find everyone's niche."

The skippers and mates have indeed being working exhaustively to get their yacht ready for the crews having regularly put in 14-hour days over the past two weeks.

"It's been a very busy time," explains James Allen, skipper of Spirit of Southampton, "getting everything on board, making sure everything works and personalising the yacht. It'll be great to have the crews here to show them what we've done and to try to get them together as a team to work the boat to the best advantage.

"It's obviously a very exciting time for us because we're finally putting all our practice into action."


This is the first time that the teams will be racing against one so there is also the added pressure on the skippers, not only to pull their crews together, but to get the psychological advantage over one another.

"We're looking forward to getting the sails up and jostling with the other boats," Pete Scoggins revealed, "and getting one over each other such as the psychological boost of passing when we've got the same sails up.

"There's obviously some apprehension about meeting the team and sailing for the first time but I don't mind if we don't win the race to Southampton as I don't want the crew to get over confident."


With a high pressure building over Southampton the crews can expect light winds, "this will test the compatibility of the crews, amongst others things," explains Jeremy Troughton, sailing manager of Challenge Business. "The race isn't just about sailing it's also about getting on with everyone else and forming a team. Light winds will mean the crews will have to be patient but it will also mean that they'll have plenty of opportunity to get to know the boats. They'll be doing lots of sail manoeuvres, sail turns and spinnaker work so that everyone knows what's going on and when."

The preliminary race from Southampton will start tomorrow with the yachts due to arrive in Southampton - the start port for the event - during Sunday afternoon.

Rachel Anning
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