The Russians are coming

Around Alone signs up its latest entry

Tuesday March 26th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic

The entry list for Around Alone, the singlehanded round the world race with stops closes at the end of this month and with it another old face has come out of the woodwork.

New to the list of 22 entries is Russian solo sailor Viktor Yazykov (above) who campaigned the leading Open 40, Wind of Change in the race four years ago. Yazykov may the wrong side of 50, but is as hard as nails. He is a former paratrooper in the Russian army who fought in Afghanistan and was also part of the clean-up team after the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. As if to demonstrate this, he, like Pete Goss in the Vendee Globe before, developed a severe medical problem with his elbow (solo sailor's elbow?) and in a particularly gory episode had to operate on himself while at sea.

As a yacht racer Yazykov has considerable ocean racing experience. Aside from the last race Yazykov was a watch leader with Skip Novak on the Russian Whitbread maxi Fazisi in 1989/90. He also sailed one of his own designs, the 30ft Laguna in the 1992 OSTAR and his Open 40 in the last singlehanded transatlantic race.

During the last Around Alone his fourth place in class two hid the fact that his swing-keel Open 40 was way faster than any of the other 40 footers and he spent most of the race nipping at the heels of the bigger Open 50s. Yazykov's success in Wind of Change was probably the reason behind the current popularity in Open 40s.

For this year's Around Alone Yazykov is building a new Open 50 currently under construction at FK Boats in Italy, who built the Frers Mediterranean Open 60 Shining, among other boats of this type. "It is the result of a collaboration with the Owen Clarke Design Group, who designed the Open 60s Kingfisher and Graham Dalton's Around Alone entry, Hexagon, and was conceived from my own experiences on the Open 40", explained Yazykov. In Around Alone the quietly spoken Russian will be up against his old rival from the last race, the all-American boy Brad van Liew.

Among Yazykov's sponsors is Avtovaz, a giant Russian joint stock manufacturing company, exporting to countries in Europe, Middle East, South and Central America.

See page 2 for the latest list of competitors...

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