Sailing: Greenhalgh prepares for new challenge in Volvo

In a major switch of disciplines, Rob Greenhalgh, the British-based world champion in both the 18-foot skiff and International 14 classes, was named as one of the principal helmsmen on the hugely experienced crew of the Dutch-based ABN-Amro challenge for the Volvo Ocean Race next year.

In a major switch of disciplines, Rob Greenhalgh, the British-based world champion in both the 18-foot skiff and International 14 classes, was named as one of the principal helmsmen on the hugely experienced crew of the Dutch-based ABN-Amro challenge for the Volvo Ocean Race next year. The 27-year-old was praised by his skipper, New Zealander Mike Sanderson, who said that Greenhalgh's selection for the 'A' team of the two-boat entry, given his skill at helming high-speed boats, was a "no-brainer".

Greenhalgh said the round-the-world race, which starts from Vigo in Spain next November, was something "I have always wanted to do. When I was asked it took about 10 seconds to make the decision." He will join the crew at its training camp in southern Portugal when the first boat is launched in early January.

Although he is the only British crew member in what will be a squad of 10, many other Britons are among the 1,300 who have applied for selection to what is being called the High Potential crew for the second boat. Brazil, the United States and The Netherlands are other preferred recruiting grounds for a shortlist which will be cut to 80 and then down to about half a dozen to join four more top professionals.

The race, which takes in South Africa, Australia, South America, the United States and Northern Europe, will feature a new design of powerful 70-foot yachts which are expected to easily break the 500-miles-a-day barrier. The race's chief executive, Glenn Bourke, said he was confident there would at least be eight boats confirmed in the next two weeks with the possibility of four more.

All of the top four skippers in the Vendée Globe singlehanded round-the-world race slowed dramatically yesterday as they ran into light airs in the south Atlantic, allowing Vincent Riou to retake a slender lead over Jean le Cam. And while Roland Jourdain and Sébastien Josse struggled to take advantage of the opportunity to make a decisive break from the chasing 16, Mike Golding was able to maintain a speed of over 10 knots and reduce what had been a growing deficit by over 50 miles on the day.

Alex Thomson was still praying that his decision to strike to the west and the Brazilian coast would bear fruit. Conrad Humphreys was ninth with Nick Moloney 11th.

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