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11 April 2003, 12:57 pm
Final Countdown
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Round Britain Challenge
Southampton

There is just over a week to go before the start of the inaugural Round Britain Challenge in association with the Daily Telegraph, which sets sail on 19 April 2003.
The eight skippers and eight mates have been taking full advantage of their last day - making final adjustments and changes - before their crews join them tomorrow evening. The near 130 Crew Volunteers - made up of men and women from all walks of life and nationalities - will be making their way to Ocean Village, Southampton from right across the country for race start week. They will be joining their yachts, which will be their home for the best part of three weeks and reunited with their crews, most having only met for the first time just two weeks ago!

The past few weeks have been a busy time for the skippers and mates, making sure their yachts and their own planning is in tip-top form for the hard and fast racing that the Round Britain Challenge will entail.

Behind the scenes there's been a hive of activity going on in and around Ocean Village for the 16 professional men and women. This week the skippers and mates attended an extensive medical lecture, with Dr Campbell Mackenzie - one of the official Challenge Business medical officers.

Jeremy Troughton, Sailing Manger for Challenge Business touched on the vast amount the skippers and mates have to know: "Safety is paramount on all the yachts and they all (skippers and mates) need to have done a Certificate of proficiency for persons in charge of medical equipment aboard a ship - a MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) certificate.

"A bit of a mouthful to say but the certificate enables them to do everything from suturing (stitching wounds) to putting in drips and administering injections. Obviously the key is prevention and safe sailing but they'll certainly be in good hands if any emergency does arise, and they can always obtain advice from the medical officers, 24 hours a day.

"The session enabled the guys to go through potential problems on board, from a medical point of view and also make sure they're up to speed with the Crisis Operations plan."


As well as the all-important medical talk and procedures the skippers and mates have also been getting used to their 15 minutes of fame and this week spent a morning being trained to handle the media. This was designed to help them get the best out of the interviews they give and feel more at home with members of the press who are coming down during next week and for the start day festivities.

A representative from World Cruising Club has also been in Ocean Village reprogramming the Sat C units, explaining: "We've been setting up the Inmarsat C terminals onboard the yachts for position report polling. Terminals send automatic reports and are also configured so the race management team can manually poll the yachts.

"At any time they can obtain positions of the yacht and also allows the website team to display the yacht on interactive mapping with a position table allowing friends, family and friends to follow the event.

"At least three regular position reports will be displayed on the web site each day with the facility of the manual poll allowing the race management to poll the yachts when close to important marks of the course, such as Muckle Flugga and when approaching the Isle of Wight at the finish."


The rest of the planning will now have to be done as a team, next week providing the opportunity for the crews to form more cohesively as a group. The eight crews are due to spend Saturday, Sunday and Monday race training before the last few days of preparation takes them up to the start day.
Rachel Anning
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