Dalton for the Volvo?

Ed Gorman reports on increasing speculation that Grant Dalton will enter the Volvo Ocean Race

Wednesday December 13th 2000, Author: Ed Gorman, Location: United Kingdom
There is increasing speculation that the five-time Whitbread veteran Grant Dalton - who skippers Club Med in The Race - will also enter the Volvo Ocean Race, possibly at the head of a two-boat campaign.

After struggling to get more than the current six confirmed entries, the return of Dalton to the event would be a big attraction for race fans and a major shot in the arm for Volvo - which has currently barely got enough boats to make a proper contest out of its first round-the-world race, which sets sail from Southampton next September.

It has been known for months that Dalton has been hunting a sponsor for the Volvo, and informed sources now say he is very close to signing a major brand sponsor. Intriguingly, the proposed campaign could apparently involve the commissioning of two boats from two different designers, rumoured to be Bruce Farr and German Frers.

While Dalton will skipper and sail on one, it is possible that the other will also enter the race under a different skipper, raising the total fleet entry to a very respectable eight boats.

However, Volvo managers are thought to remain concerned that final funding and some key decisions on who will sail on which boat - and even whether there will definitely be two boats - are yet to be confirmed. The company is said to be hoping that these and other issues will be clarified by the New Year, enabling them to make a formal announcement at the London Boat Show in January. As one source told madforsailing: "It is looking really positive but it's not ready yet."

Dalton was frustrated by his performance in the last race when he sailed Merit Cup to second overall behind Paul Cayard's EF Language. It became evident as the race developed that he had chosen the slower of the two boats he had commissioned from Farr, which was a particularly galling setback.

But his determination to win the event in its all-60 foot format has been rekindled and he is likely to get stuck in as soon as The Race is over, when his contract with Club Med ends. Hunting for crew fairly late in the day, Dalton is thought to be looking for a mixture of older experienced sailors for the back of the boat and some young guns for the front end.

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