Sailing: Golding wins as Edwards faces delay in finances

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The Independent Online

While Mike Golding was able to celebrate a top-of-the- podium win in the Défi Atlantique yesterday and look forward to a Christmas celebration with added bounce, Tracy Edwards was trying to restructure one of the biggest sponsorship packages announced in British sport in 2003.

"I feel very happy," Golding said. "It is very rewarding after what has been a tough year-and-a-half." Just as elated was the 29-year-old Alex Thomson, only 15 minutes behind the second-placed Vincent Riou. All three, plus Nick Moloney, have now also qualified for the Vendée Globe singlehanded round the world race, which starts next November.

Life has been more fraught for Edwards. After the public fanfare in September of a £38m sponsorship announcement in central London, all has not gone to timetable. First in a quartet of endeavours linked to the promotion of the oil sheikhdom of Qatar should have been another attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy for the round the world record in January. "Unfinished business" Edwards said, but within weeks she announced she would not be on board herself. The job would be left to the skipper, Brian Thompson.

Difficulties over securing the first tranche of money are blamed. The boat, a 120-foot catamaran which is the former Club Med, needs a major fit and no slot has been booked in a repair yard, so it will go instead to Qatar for promotional appearances.

"I wasn't sure about doing a Jules Verne anyway," Edwards said this week, perhaps not least because Steve Fossett's Cheyenne is sitting in Plymouth waiting to attack the record, and the Frenchman Olivier de Kersauson is champing at the bit in Brittany with his giant trimaran.

Edwards still has to look after the backers of the $2.1m (£1.2m) she paid for the boat, principal among them the Henry Ansbacher bank and Andrew Pindar, the man behind the exploits of Emma Richards.

Whether a new boat will be built will be decided by Thompson. Edwards expects cash to begin to flow on 1 January and plans to announce entries a week later for the Oryx Trophy non-stop round the world race, scheduled for early 2005.