Sailing: Montgomerie to swap clubs for the challenge of the open sea

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The Independent Online

Colin Montgomerie will make an intriguing sporting crossover next year when he forsakes his golf clubs to compete in sailing's gruelling Volvo Ocean Race.

The seven-times European No1 plans to join the yachtswoman Emma Richards, a fellow Scot, for one leg of the 30,000-mile race. Richards, 29, an Independent columnist, will skipper the boat, working alongside New Zealand's Mike Sanderson, 32, a Volvo Ocean Race and America's Cup veteran who also happens to be her boyfriend. "I am fiercely supportive of all Scottish sportspeople," Montgomerie said. "I greatly admired Emma's inspirational solo circumnavigation last year [in the Around Alone race] and feel privileged to be invited to become a member of her and Mike's team.

"I've said before that I would love to take on a new challenge such as competing in a major yacht race like the Volvo Ocean Race, but I never thought I'd have the time or the opportunity.

"I'm sure it's going to be one of the biggest challenges of my life. I'm aiming to sail on one of the legs of the race and possibly some of the in-port races, but before then I will be helping Emma and Mike to secure the necessary sponsorship."

The nine-month race starts on 5 November 2005 from Vigo in northern Spain and comprises nine off-shore legs and seven inshore races in stopover ports. Richards' sponsors, Pindar, will be involved but another £12m of corporate funding is being sought for the project.

Montgomerie's involvement in the Volvo venture was announced as Richards separately helped to launch a "Yacht Idol" talent competition for 16 to 23-year-olds interested in a career in ocean racing. The winner of the contest, likely to be televised, will receive a three-year, £45,000 apprenticeship. Details and entry forms can be found at www.pindar.com.

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