Edwards launches record challenge

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Tracy Edwards is to make a comeback to round-the-world yachting with an attempt on Sir Peter Blake and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston's speed record of 74 days 22hr 17min and 22sec.

She will make the attempt in the same boat, having bought the 92ft catamaran Enza in which Knox-Johnston and Blake set the record in in 1994.

The 33-year old, who skippered Maiden in the 1989-90 Whitbread Race, returns to the all-woman crew formula which made her famous and hopes to slice nearly two days off the record with a time of 73 days.

She expects to race with a crew of nine, as did Blake and Knox-Johnston. "It's not a strength thing," she said. "It's more a question of concentration and knowing how to handle the boat. We'll be testing that and if we find we need more then we will take more."

Testing will begin at the end of May after the boat has been shipped from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Edwards will the skipper it across the Atlantic to a refit in Hamble, Hampshire. Helping her as project manager will be Ed Danby, a leading member of the 1994 record-breaking crew.

Edwards, who now lives in the Gower Peninsula, has negotiated, with a group of private backers, a keen price for the yacht, which she sailed in San Diego harbour. "It's just unreal," she said. "It just changes your way of thinking about sailing. She's so responsive, so practical, so amazing."

Some of the old Maiden crew will be back, including Jo Gooding, and "a couple more we've contacted but who haven't told their husbands yet." But, as well as continuing a search for sponsorship to fund the record attempt, Edwards is hoping to attract new blood for the Jules Verne Trophy project. "They need some experience, and to be young and strong," she says.