Sailing: Edwards ordered to pay £500,000 debt

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The Independent Online

Tracy Edwards, the round-the-world yachtswoman, was yesterday given two more months to settle a £500,000 debt secured against her home as she prepared to go to the High Court to contest another legal challenge over her business ventures.

A district judge gave Ms Edwards more time to resolve her dispute with Andrew Pindar, the Yorkshire print firm tycoon, about a loan he made to her in 2002 to purchase the £1.1m catamaran, Maiden II.

But if she fails to find the money she could still be forced to sell the Berkshire house she shares with her four-year-old daughter and her mother, who suffers from multiple sclerosis. "It is a substantial property in a fantastic location and no one has a divine right to live in such a place," said Henry Chapel, a spokesman for Mr Pindar.

John Armistead, also speaking on behalf of Mr Pindar, said after the hearing: "She has multimillion-pound business opportunities in Qatar. I am not sure what particular bucket she will get the money from."

A private hearing at Newbury County Court was told that Mr Pindar's loan was secured against the Edwards's Berkshire home, Burnt Hill House in Yattendon. Both sides agreed to set 6 November as the latest settlement date.

Ms Edwards, 41, is currently in Qatar where she is preparing to make a "major announcement" on the first of the £38m Qatar races, the Oryx Cup, later this month.

She declined to comment on her financial situation yesterday but insisted the Oryx would go ahead and said she had signed up four confirmed entrants - claims being treated with some scepticism within the industry.

Ms Edwards, appointed an MBE after skippering the first all-woman crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989, is now trying to sell the Maiden II which was due to be renamed Qatar 2006 and refitted to take part in the race.

A spokesman for Ms Edwards said: "We are delighted to confirm that we have agreed terms for the repayment of the loan to Mr Pindar. As part of the same agreement, Ms Edwards is not required to vacate her family home."

Meanwhile, the yachtswoman is also facing outstanding claims from her crew, who claim they are owed unpaid wages of up to £500,000 for their work on the yacht - a claim she denies.

Lawyers for Ms Edwards will return to court tomorrow for a resumed hearing concerning £80,000 of unpaid fees and costs allegedly owed to sports sponsorship firm Sports Impact.

It claims two of her companies, Maiden Ocean Racing and Maiden Ocean Racing Qatar, hired Sports Impact to help launch two races in Qatar on behalf of the government there. Sports Impact has been seeking the winding up of both companies in the High Court. The company's director John Taylor said it was time Ms Edwards paid up. "Unless we are paid we will want a full financial investigation by the liquidators. We know other suppliers have been asked to change their invoices and then have got paid," he said.

Ms Edwards is disputing this claim and insists the companies are "dormant shelf companies with no assets". She claims they have never been part of the project to run the Oryx Cup, or the Global Challenge, another circumnavigation in 2006.