The Race Ready?

After Fossett's comments on delaying the start of The Race, Ed Gorman looks at whether Team Philips will be ready for the Southern Ocean
Pete Goss and Mark Orr, the key players in the troubled Team Philips catamaran project for The Race, say they are still on course to make the start of the event, scheduled for New Year's Eve, despite having lost months of work-up time due to the structural failure in the port bow. Orr says the suggestion floated about six weeks ago by PlayStation owner Steve Fossett - that The Race be delayed - is a non-starter and both he and Goss and all the other prospective competitors are of one mind in agreeing that it should go ahead on schedule. Orr confirmed that in the wake of Fossett's remarks, which were made to a journalist during the Round the Island Race in which PlayStation took part, competitors met to discuss this and other issues in Paris. Orr says there was unanimous agreement that the event should start in December. "We had a meeting of the various challengers with the race committee, and everyone agreed that (delaying) would not be in the best interests of the race or the competitors. It would only make sense if there were not enough competitors whereas actually there are eight, so what's the point of delaying it when it's going to be a great event," says Orr. There may be eight competitors on paper ready for the rigours of racing non-stop round-the-world and through the Southern Ocean, but in reality Fossett must be close to the mark in arguing that of the new generation of maxi-cats only two - PlayStation and Club Med - will be anything like race-ready. Team Philips is not due out of the shed until the very end of September and the two Ollier-designed sister-ships to Club Med will not emerge for the first time until at least then and perhaps well into October. Among