Sailing: Debts leave Edwards struggling to stay afloat

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The Independent Online

Tracy Edwards was yesterday flying home facing bankruptcy and homelessness as her creditors closed in. The woman who put together the first all-female entry in what was then the Whitbread Round-the-World Race and most recently announced she was heading, on behalf of the oil state of Qatar, a £38m programme of yacht races and sponsorship is trying to disentangle a network of debts totalling more than £1m.

She had paid $2.1m (£1.1m) for a 110-foot catamaran, formerly raced as Club Med by the current head of Team New Zealand's America's Cup challenge, Grant Dalton. However, to pay for the yacht she had to borrow money from a merchant bank, from the businessman Andrew Pindar, who also backed Emma Richards in her round-the-world solo races, and by mortgaging her Berkshire home.

Pindar is determined to have the money repaid and has a second charge on her home. Edwards had hoped to sell the boat to Qatari interests to repay the debts and to pay the many crew and suppliers who had helped her put her campaign together.

But that sale fell through over two weeks ago, the crew and former associates have been warned they may now receive none of the money they are owed, and Edwards faces court claims for unpaid bills.

She is struggling to keep the first event, due to begin in Doha in February, on track. While she says she has six entries, three of them paid up, one of those is her own, and the boat would need considerable investment to make it race ready. A second is by the Frenchman Olivier de Kersauson, who may yet decide instead this winter to do his own round-the-world speed record attempt, and the third is Tony Bullimore, whose now ageing catamaran is one he bought from Edwards after she had used it in her own unsuccessful attempt to set a round-the-world record.

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