Edwards buys Club Med

For program of record attempts with her all-female crew

Monday February 25th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
Tracy Edwards has this morning formally come clean about her plans for making a number of sailing record attempts culminating in Jules Verne Trophy next January. Once again this will be with an all-female crew, continuing Edwards' campaign for equality of the sexes in the world of sailing, that started when she entered the first all-female crew aboard Maiden in the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race and that came to an abrupt halt when her maxi-catamaran Royal & SunAlliance dismasted in the Southern Ocean in March 1998.

To carry out her new program Edwards has purchased Grant Dalton's 110ft catamaran Club Med, winner of The Race and one of the fastest offshore racing boats in the world. However some aspects of her campaign are still to be resolved - a title sponsor is still being sought for £3 million, although negotiations are said to be well advanced. Equally important is that a skipper needs to be appointed as Edwards, now a mother, will stay ashore for this attempt.

Many of the crew from Royal & SunAlliance are returning. These include Emma Richards, Miranda Merron, Sam Davies, Emma Westmacott, Fred Brule, Mikaela von Koskull and Helena Darvelid. It is likely that Adrienne Cahalan will navigate. However more have still to be found before Edwards reaches her full compliment of 15-16 and no doubt will include names currently sailing on Amer Sports Too.

On the sponsorship front Edwards seems to be putting together a package similar in style to the one Graham Dalton has for the HSBC bank, whereby a sponsor funds a sailing programme to use it as a vehicle to raise additional funds and awareness for their cause. While Dalton is using the HSBC Education Trust, Edwards' venture will be supporting the Prince's Trust.

At present Edwards is negotiating with a leading production company called RDF Media Group to take care of the television side of the campaign. RDF describes itself as "one of the UK's largest television production companies and one of Britain's fastest growing companies. They have been responsible for TV programmes such as Banzai, Scrapheap Challenge, Junkyard Wars, Faking It and Eden.

The former Club Med is still at the yard in La Ciotat in the south of France where she is being cleaned up, prior to attempts on the Route of Discovery Record and the Transmed record from Marseilles to Carthage. Edwards will skipper the boat until such time as a skipper is appointed.

But who will the new skipper be? The experienced figures of von Koskull or Cahalan? The newer generation such as Richards or Merron both of whom have got a lot more offshore experience under their belts since 1998. Or will it be the talented, hard driving Emma Westmacott?

It should be remembered that by the time the next round of Jules Verne record attempts take place in a year's time there could be as many as four maxi-multihulls gunning for it including Steve Fossett's PlayStation (under a different name, as their sponsorship has now expired), Cam Lewis' sistership to Club Med, Team Adventure. And then of course there is Ellen MacArthur...

Finally there is the added issue that by the time these boats come to make their attempts next there is a very real chance that the record will be very hard to beat as there is a strong chance that either Geronimo or Orange will take the record well below 70 days on their present attempts.

The mighty Club Med - to see Carlo Borlenghi's images of this beast, check out the following pages

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