Team news

New sponsor and Open 60 build progress at Ellen MacArthur's Offshore Challenges

Thursday May 31st 2007, Author: Lou Newlands, Location: United Kingdom
The Offshore Challenges Sailing Team has welcomed a new supporting partner to the family of sponsors that back the activities of Ellen, Nick Moloney and the professional sailors in the team. The UK’s largest energy provider, E.ON, the company that runs Powergen and E.ON Energy, have formed a new partnership with the sailing team. On land, Ellen will also be working closely with E.ON’s B2B division to promote sustainability and energy efficiency.

“Carefully managing my resources – be it my energy, food consumption or fuel, has always been a key aspect of my solo voyages and something I have lived with all my life," says Dame Ellen. "A racing sailor leaves for a round the world race with the absolute minimum onboard to save weight, yet must get around the planet in a self-sufficient way – there is no re-supply. You save everything, you economise everywhere. I am very keen to learn more about how we can all take practical steps to be more energy efficient in everyday life, especially through our own business at OC Group. There is no question we are part of the problem like everyone else. We travel, we consume, we waste. We have lots to learn in the coming years on how to improve our own footprint on the planet. I’m looking forward to challenge, to question, to learn, and ultimately to help share the solutions.”

Ellen expects to announce a new title partner to the Offshore Challenges Sailing Team by the end of July. The new title partner shares the team’s ambition to perform in the IMOCA Ocean Racing World Championship, with a focus on winning the 2008/09 solo Vendée Globe.

In the iShares Cup on Extreme 40s Nick Moloney and his crew onboard the Offshore Challenges Sailing Team returned from Lake Starnberg after competing in the first event of the iShares Cup Extreme 40 season. The Munich event was dominated by light and shifty conditions: “We used up all our bad luck on the first day,” Nick Moloney stated. “In four races we ran aground twice, had a penalty and were slow to accelerate in the light winds. The whole team has agreed that we sailed below our ability so we tried really hard to turn it around.” And the team stepped up their performance managing to score a first and second on the final day of racing to take fifth place overall. The team now head to Lake Geneva [Switzerland] for the Bol d’Or Mirabaud, one of the endurance races in the iShares Cup season of racing.

Three years since launching their last boat, the record-breaking 75ft trimaran B&Q, the Offshore Challenges Sailing Team are only weeks away from their new IMOCA Open 60 touching the water for the first time. The build team are in the final stages of production: “The hull was joined to the deck three weeks ago and the final stage really involves bringing all the other components together,” said Sailing Team Manager, Charles Darbyshire.

“The mast has just arrived from Sweden and the keel fin from the USA, with the remainder of the major components, such as, the keel bulb, rudders, daggerboards, standing rigging, all coming together in the next couple of weeks," he continues. "We began the build on the 1st November last year with 13-14 people reaching a peak of 26 people in the final stages. So we’re looking at a build within eight months taking around 22,000 hours of labour in total. These IMOCA Open 60s are complicated, hi-tech yachts now.”

The new monohull will compete in the new double-handed Barcelona World Race by top professional sailors Brian Thompson and Guillermo Altadill from Barcelona. This duo will face tough competition from up to 10 other top IMOCA Open 60 campaigns and getting to the podium will be no easy feat. Guillermo, aged 44, and Brian, 45, bring a wealth of experience to this campaign including racing together on the Maxi catamaran Cheyenne when they claimed the crewed round the world record in 2004 of 58 days, 9 hours 36 minutes and 40 seconds. Between them they have an incredible eight circumnavigations (Guillermo 6 and Brian 2), although this will be the first short-handed round the world race for Guillermo whereas Brian has garnered extensive experience of short-handed and solo sailing over the last decade. The name of the boat and its sponsor will be revealed shortly.

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