Two of Britain's best-known ocean race single-handed sailors, each with a Volvo Race skipper alongside them, go head to head tomorrow in the Calais Round Britain Race.
Mike Golding will have Neal McDonald, confirmed this week as skipper of the Swedish entry backed by Ericsson, on Ecover and Emma Richards sees Sébastien Josse, who will be in charge of the second ABN-Amro boat, join her on Pindar.
They not only have to negotiate a demanding 1,850-mile course, they also have to beat some really tough competition, not least the trio of Roland Jourdain, Jean le Cam, second in the Vendée, and Bernard Stamm.
Golding, looking relaxed after fitting a new keel to replace the one that broke off 50 miles before finishing third in the Vendée Globe race in February, said: "I am feeling excited to be back on the water. While there are more people to make things go wrong when you have a crew, there are also more people to prevent things going wrong, to form a brains trust, and to make things go faster."
The summer programme for Golding, who is top of the Open 60 rankings, includes next month's Round the Island race and, in August, the Fastnet Race. He then contests the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre from Le Havre to Bahia de Salvador, Brazil, which starts on 5 November.
Josse, who was one place behind Golding in the Vendée, is expecting a hard ride: "The first section down the Channel is very tactical," he said. "Then you have to cope with the Atlantic weather systems off Ireland and there could be a lot of upwind work in heavy conditions north of Scotland.
"The standard is very high. You can never say when the race will be won or lost, and if you make a mistake it can be costly."
Which all suits Golding, who took second place in yesterday's inshore race with help from the British ambassador, Sir John Holmes, who feels his boat's performance is improving.
* Ellen MacArthur, of Britain, will team up with the Frenchman Roland Jourdain on his Open 60 Sill et Véolia for the Transat Jacques Vabre.Reuse content