Emma aloft

Over the satphone from mid-Atlantic Emma Richards gave James Boyd her first impressions solo sailing her new boat
"Hoots man, ye ken?" With her Glaswegian background I always want to think of Emma Richards as sailing's equivalent to Billy Connolly but am again disappointed when I come to speak over a remarkably clear line direct to her Iridium satellite phone, that prolonged exposure to Hampshire has left only the slightest trace of her highlands lilt remaining. Scotland's very own answer to Ellen MacArthur set sail from Cowes last Saturday to deliver her newly chartered Open 60 to Newport, Rhode Island ready for the September start of Around Alone, the singlehanded round the world race. The Groupe Finot design, that for the last few years Josh Hall has been sailing, has now shed her Gartmore livery in favour of the colours of Richards' long term sponsor Scarborough-based print and internet giant, Pindar. Apart from the Round the Island and a few days of corporate charter, the voyage across to Newport is Richards' first major outing in the boat and to make matters a little more interesting she is doing the trip singlehanded - necessary in order to qualify for Around Alone and a much needed opportunity for her to get to grips with her new beastie. Yesterday afternoon when we spoke to her, Pindar was 300 miles past Cape Finisterre apparently heading for the Caribbean. "I could have gone upwind, but I decided to go south of the Azores," she explained. Going 'the pretty way', downwind to Newport, the route is around 4,000 miles long, almost twice that of the direct route, but should help spare the boat, Emma's fillings and also give her more time to acclimatise to being on board alone. "We're doing 9-10 knots, so the miles are disappearing pretty fast." At present there are all manner of things which Richards says she is learning about the