Women's team to enter EDS Atlantic Challenge

Helena Darvelid to skipper Open 60

Friday May 25th 2001, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
Helena DarvelidSwedish former Royal & SunAlliance and Lakota crew woman Helena Darvelid, 35, is to skipper the seventh boat in Chay Blyth's EDS Atlantic Challenge. This race for fully crewed Open 60s starts on 1 July from St Malo and includes two Atlantic crossings.

Darvelid will be sailing Loick Peyron's old Petit/Bouvet-designed Open 60 Fujicolor, most recently raced by Richard Tolkien in the Vendee Globe. Darvelid told madforsailing that although her experience lies primarily in state-of-the-art racing multihulls, she has been told that racing an Open 60 is much the same. We shall see....

Darvelid sailed multihulls extensively with her then boyfriend Brian Thompson and between the two of them covered many thousands of miles two handed in events such as the Round Britain & Ireland race, the TwoStar and the Azores and back. When Steve Fossett decided to go multihull racing in the late 1980s and bought Florence Arthaud's Pierre 1er trimaran (subsequently renaming it Lakota) Thompson and Darvelid were regular crew for the American billionaire and were on board in 1994 when Fossett established new world records for sailing non-stop around the British Isles and round the Isle of Wight. Darvelid then joined Tracy Edwards' Royal & SunAlliance crew as watch captain, setting new records for Cowes-St Malo and for a women's team across the Atlantic. They were ahead of the record for the Jules Verne Trophy for sailing fastest non-stop fully crewed around the world when just before Cape Horn they dismasted.

Darvelid says she has more or less chosen her crew (the maximum allowed is five, the minimum three) but is waiting for a firm committment from them before making an announcement.

For Chay Blyth and the Challenge Business this now means their EDS Challenge line-up numbers seven including:

- Team Group 4 with Mike Golding
- Gartmore with Josh Hall
- Kingfisher with Nick Maloney skippering and Ellen on board for some legs
- Sill Enterprises with Roland Jourdain (third in the Vendee Globe)
- Fila (with Around Alone winner Giovanni Soldini and Isabelle Autissier making guest appearances)
- Frenchman Loic Pochet in a boat yet to be announced.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a yacht race...

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