"Sheilas" to skipper second Nautor boat

Grant Dalton tells madforsailing that his Volvo campaign is taking the EF route

Monday June 11th 2001, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
Speaking from the Nautor Challenge's base in La Ciotat, France, Grant Dalton today confirmed to madforsailing that the second of Nautor Challenge's two boats now has funding, will definitely be sailing in the Volvo Ocean Race and will have a female crew. Although the campaign's two boats are not identical, Nautor Challenge will be the Volvo Ocean Race's equivalent to the EF team in the last Whitbread Round the World Race with the boats having joint sponsors and branding.

The skipper of the second boat has yet to be decided. "Who the skipper is, we'll announce when we find one! I'm in negotiations..." Dalton is tight lipped about who this person is but admits he is in fact a long way down the track in discussions with one person.

Who might this female skipper be? It is not Christine Guillou who skippered EF Education in the last race. However there have been a number of other women who were trying to get campaigns together for this race including Dawn Riley, Lisa Charles and Katie Pettibone and Isabelle Autissier. Autissier sailed a few legs on EF Education and was trying to get a project going with Around Alone/Vendee Globe winner Christophe Auguin for this race. If it is Riley then it is known that Ellen MacArthur was speaking to her earlier this year about joining her crew for some legs. Or could it be....Ellen? We will have to wait to find out.

As ever, the main thing Dalton is having to contend with is the lateness of the project. "We're trying to do in six months what EF took two and a half years to do," he commented. "Every single thing with this campaign we're having to do incredibly quickly." Nautor Challenge was only announced in December with funding from the new Italian owners of the famous Finnish boat builder Nautor's Swan whose European Championship is currently taking place on the Solent.

The first of the two boats - a design by German Frers Jr, German Frers' son who is also part of the Swedish America's Cup challenge design team - is to be launched at the end of the week and will be sailing by the end of the weekend. The second boat by Farr Yacht Design will not be launched until 9 July.

Dalton says he is impressed by its lightness of the Frers boat. "It appears it is a lot lighter in its construction and engineering. Both have ABS, but one is a product of Russell Bowler (of Farr Yacht Design) and the other is a product of Giovanni (Belgrano of SP Technologies). On the basis that they both will weigh 13.5 tonnes (the minimum allowed under the Volvo Ocean 60 rule) it will have a much bigger bulb and more stability." Dalton says it will be his call as to which boat he will skipper in the Volvo Ocean Race.

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