Miranda's 60ft birthday presentFormer Pindar girl and Royal & SunAlliance crew Miranda Merron has confirmed to madforsailing that she has secured herself a sponsor to - at this stage at least - take her through to the end of November's Transat Jacques Vabre.
For the last few seasons Merron's name has been inextricably linked with that of Emma Richards and the sponsor Pindar. The duo raced together on Pete Goss' former Aqua Quorum in the Transat Jacques Vabre two years ago, in the RORC Round Britain Race and in the Figaro class' Transat AG2R. But trying to maintain a programme where they only ever entered two-handed races was never going to last for long and ironically a couple of months ago there was an amicable split. Ironically it was that around this time that Pindar had agreed a budget to build a new Merfyn Owen Open 60.
Part of the reason for the separation was that Emma and Miranda now have different goals. Emma has become hooked on 60ft trimarans (who wouldn't?). Meanwhile after years of vehemently saying that she would never do singlehanded offshore racing, Miranda has recently done an about-turn and has announced that she wants to do the next Vendee Globe. Pindar was Emma Richards' sponsor and they continue to back her, while Merron has gone her own way.
But in a remarkably short space of time Merron has sorted herself. For the foreseeable future she will be racing under the colours of Un Univers de Services. This will sound familiar to those who followed the Vendee Globe, as it is Eric Dumont's sponsor. In fact, Merron has not only inherited the ill-fated Dumont's sponsor, but also his boat (the 1992 Vendee Globe winner, formerly Bagages Superior). "I'm delighted," Merron told madforsailing. "It's my birthday today and this is quite a big birthday present!"
The first event for the boat will be the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre to Brazil in November and for this event she has teamed up with another former Royal & SunAlliance crew, Fred Brule, who is currently racing in the EDS Atlantic Challenge with Helena Darvelid on Alphagraphics. Although the boat is chartered until the start of 2003, whether the sponsorship will continued beyond the Transat Jacques Vabre remains to be seen. "We're going to see how things go with the Transat Jacques Vabre," she told madforsailing. "I would hope they will continue."
If the sponsorship does extend into 2002, Merron will be able to campaign the boat in the IMOCA series and the prestigious Route de Rhum singlehanded transatlantic race from St Malo to Guadeloupe. There is also the possibility of another long distance crewed race for the Open 60s, along the same lines as the 60ft trimaran's Challenge Mondial Assistance course. She is also very interested in the possibility of racing in the Around Alone (singlehanded round the world with stops), particularly if, as rumour has it, its first leg is the Route de Rhum. "That (Around Alone) strikes me as an ideal opportunity to gain experience - you can stop the boat and fix it - and it gives me some time down south," she commented.
Although she has sailed many miles on Pete Goss' Open 50, Merron says she will be hoping to gain experience sailing with Mike Golding on the EDS Atlantic Challenge. She will then have to get to grips with the new boat she has yet to sail.
Ultimately Merron is looking to use Un Univers de Service as a training boat while she gets a new boat designed and built for the Vendee Globe.