Sailing: Hollywood casts off in round-the-world race

Hollywood yesterday announced a swashbuckling assault on the British-based Volvo Ocean Race in a highly original joint venture. The makers of the second in the
Pirates of the Caribbean series, the Walt Disney Company, will have their Open 70 racing yacht built at the Green Marine facility in Lymington, Hampshire, in time to start the round-the-world race from Galicia, north-west Spain, in November.

Hollywood yesterday announced a swashbuckling assault on the British-based Volvo Ocean Race in a highly original joint venture. The makers of the second in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, the Walt Disney Company, will have their Open 70 racing yacht built at the Green Marine facility in Lymington, Hampshire, in time to start the round-the-world race from Galicia, north-west Spain, in November.

Helping with the initial funding of the £8m to £10m campaign is the Volvo Car Company (a joint holding with the Ford Motor Company) and Volvo AB, but the plan is to replace that funding from other commercial sponsors. The boat, to be named The Black Pearl, will then be used for the duration of the race, which finishes in Sweden in June 2006 and features stopovers at Cape Town, Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro, Baltimore, Portsmouth and Rotterdam, to promote the film before its release in July 2006.

In addition, Disney will use the race to develop video games and publishing initiatives. It is the seventh confirmed entry in the event - there are hints of an eighth in the wings-- and most of the 10-strong crew, and the skipper, will be American. The film's star, Johnny Depp, is not expected to be one of them, even though he enjoys sailing, but may make an appearance at a stopover or the New York pit stop. Disney wants the boat to do well and is thought to be talking to the likes of Paul Cayard, Kenny Read, and Chris Larsen to take the helm.

"This takes us to a whole new level in terms of global profile and exposure," the chief executive of the race, Glenn Bourke, said yesterday.

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