A sixth entry for the Volvo round the world race, which starts from Alicante in November, has been announced from China.
The man who won the race in 2004-05, New Zealander Mike Sanderson, will head up a project which will campaign a boat from the last race in 2008-09.
Ericsson 4 has been used for training by the French team Groupama, which now has its own new boat, but Sanderson also pointed to the possibility of buying one of the Telefonica boats from Spain.
Chinese government finance, more specifically from the Hainan Island region and its tourist resort of Sanya, means the project is fully funded. Sanderson hopes this will be a toe in the water which leads to an continuing presence in the next Volvo Race and will also develop awareness among the people of China to develop as an ocean racing nation. “The Chinese tend not to do things by halves,” he said.
He also hopes to rotate four Chinese crew, not as media contributors but as full members of the 10 who sail the boats on each leg. “We hope always to have a Chinese crew member on each leg,” he said.
Other new boats have been built by the Puma team in America, the Telefonica team in Spain, a second Spanish team, Camper, is being managed by Team New Zealand and its new boat has been built in NZ, and the Abu Dhabi team, skippered by Britain’s Ian Walker, has built its new boat in Italy.
But there has still been no confirmation of the Telefonica team headed by Pedro Campos, racing its 2008-09 boat, Telefonica Blue, possibly under a separate name, which would increase the fleet size to seven.
Sanderson expects to base the team on the south coast of England for training and a programme of boat modifications and would like to be ready to take part in the Rolex Fastnet Race, which starts on 14 August.