5 days in the life of ... Tracy Edwards

After a punishing defeat in the Jules Verne round-the-world race, the intrepid sailor plans her next big challenge
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Indy Lifestyle Online
MONDAY: Went up to our PR firm in London: we are looking for sponsorship for The Race, which has been created by Bruno Peyron, one of the top multi-hull sailors, for the Millennium. It is sponsored by Walt Disney and it will start on 31 December in the year 2000, a non-stop circumnavigation of the globe, clockwise. It will be the biggest, fastest boats in the world with the best crews. We have a good chance of winning. It takes a good two years to put together a project like this: we are looking for pounds 8m. I want to be ready to start building the boat in January, and that gives us a year to train. That's important because although the crew has done a lot of training, the next boat will be 28ft bigger. Our last boat, the Royal and SunAlliance, was designed by men for men, and it's bloody uncomfortable. There are a lot of things that can be improved.

TUESDAY: Up to London again to meet with the company which looks after my motivational talks. I started doing that in 1991 and really enjoy it. Every company wants something different, and it is a bonus I end up talking with people like Rebecca Stephens and Will Carling. I say: "I'm not going to tell you how to run your business; I'm going to tell you what I did. If you can get something out of that, great." It was pure luck how I got into sailing; I was 17 and working in a bar in Greece while I was backpacking, and some guy came in and said "Would you like to work on a charter boat?" I got really hooked. I just love being at sea, being out there.

WEDNESDAY: Helena, my first mate, came here for the whole day and we went through ideas for design. The girls - that's what I call my crew - had sent in loads of ideas, and we talked about the new crew members; we need two more women. When I put Maiden - the all-female crew for the Whitbread 1989 race - together, we were really digging around trying to find people. But there is now a bigger women's network and we have a choice of possibly 30. During the Jules Verne, we had a nice mix of old farts and up-and-coming youngsters, so the older ones regaled the younger ones with tall stories, and the latter had all the energy. It's funny, but there's no real tomboys among us; they're tough but very feminine. We see as much of each other as possible: you can have a great boat and a great sponsor, but if you don't have a team who work well together, you may as well forget it. The Southern Ocean was horrendous; we were sailing a boat that is 92ft in 40ft waves, with 50 or 60 knot winds. You're permanently wet, cold and miserable. You can never get completely dry, and it's hugely stressful. Unfortunately we lost our mast, but we were so close to the record. I was devastatingly disappointed, but really pleased as well; really proud of what we did.

THURSDAY: Had to go to the dentist this morning, and this evening I'm taking my mum to the doctor. My younger brother Trevor runs my company, Tracy Edwards Associates: I really needed someone I trust. I tend to get up really early because I like to get as much work done in the office as I can, but by the time I get back from London, I just make myself something to eat and go to bed. I don't have a social life any more, but I don't really miss it, although when I was younger I loved being the life and soul. Now I read a lot, especially biographies. I've read one on Shackleton and just started Gandhi.

FRIDAY: Down to Plymouth for a meeting with our boat designer Nigel Irens. I don't sail much because I don't like short-distance sailing and I'm not into regattas. I don't live near the sea on purpose; I tend to spend most of my time getting ready for the big ones.

Interview by Rachelle Thackray

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