Sailing: McDonalds team up to end Volvo rivalry

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The Independent Online

An early move to mount a British-based challenge for the next Volvo Ocean Race was announced yesterday by the husband and wife partnership of Neal and Lisa McDonald.

Last time they were rivals as Neal took over as skipper of Assa Abloy at the end of the first leg to Cape Town and then drove a gritty campaign to second place. Lisa was skipper of the all-woman crew on Amer Sports Too, but had the satisfaction of beating both her husband and her then boss, Grant Dalton, across the finish of the last leg into Kiel, Germany.

"We have been really busy these last few months and we want not just to do the next race together, but to win it," Lisa said. But no decision has been taken on whether to go for a 50-50 split of men and women in a 10-person crew for the new 70-foot design of yacht for the 2005-06 round-the-world race - which celebrates the 30th anniversary of its Whitbread Race origins in September. The couple will share the skipper's duties but may plump for a nine-person mixed crew with the majority being male.

Neal would like to see the entry carrying the British flag, but Lisa is American and the most likely source of backing for the $15m campaign would be an international company able to take advantage of the race going to both South and North America, South Africa, Australia, Britain and Scandinavia.

"We have done everything in the Volvo except win it," added Neal. "So we have started this time by putting all our energies into assembling a management team, including a City adviser, a lawyer and an accountancy adviser. Of course, we have also had some contact from people interested in joining the crew and I think there is enough talent in Britain not only to put two crews together, but two crews which could fight all the way round for first and second."

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