New Open 60 race announced
The event will start on Sunday, 26 July 2003 from the Solent, with its finish scheduled to coincide with Scandia Life Cowes Week. Like last year's EDS Atlantic Challenge the event will be fully crewed. Importantly it will also form part of the calendar of IMOCA, the Open 60 class association, thereby guaranteeing a reasonable fleet of boats.
The current record for a non-stop Round Britain passage by a monohull is held by Alex Thompson's Sail That Dream (now Brad van Liew's Tommy Hilfiger-sponsored boat in Around Alone) with a time of 10d 18h 27m 23s.
Sir Chay Blyth, executive chairman of race organiser Challenge Business, comments: "We are delighted that EDS is continuing to support these leading edge, exhilarating yachts and, after the tremendous success of the EDS Atlantic Challenge last year, we look forward to working with this world-class company, EDS to provide another fantastic event."
Roland Jourdain, president of IMOCA and skipper of the Open 60 Sill Plein Fruit gave his view: "We are very happy to learn of the creation of this new race around Britain and Ireland. IMOCA is delighted to see EDS developing its partnership with 60-foot yachts.After the EDS Atlantic Challenge, we are going to take part in the EDS Round Britain and Ireland Race in July 2003."
Ellen MacArthur's business manager Mark Turner said: "There is an active fleet of more than 20 IMOCA Open 60s right now, the largest fleet of offshore racing boats in the world, split currently between the Route du Rhum race (17) and the Around Alone (5). The EDS Round Britain and Ireland race should attract a good number of these campaigns.
"The boats that have competed in the last two IMOCA crewed events have demonstrated the value of this kind of all-out racing is a major value to their solo campaigns as well, pushing the boats to their limits in ways they rarely do alone. The course presents many challenges, in terms of navigation and weather, as well as an 11-day record to break and forms part of the MMA IMOCA World Championship programme for 2003."
Among the likely entries will be Sill, Kingfisher and Ecover. Jean Pierre Dick is also considering taking part aboard Virbac, previously Michel Desjoyeaux's Vendee Globe winner. Ecover's Mike Golding gave his endorsement: "We at Mike Golding Yacht Racing are looking forward to competing in the 2nd EDS Challenge. Sailing around the British Isles creates unique navigational challenges and doing it fully crewed in radical Open 60 yachts, will almost certainly achieve a new world record for this route. Can't wait!"