Teams preparing for Volvo Ocean Race

The heavyweights are lining up for the Volvo Ocean Race with the American Puma team announcing it will be back for the next round the world event which starts from Alicante, Spain in November next year.

Skipper Kenny Read, who came second last time, is having a new boat designed and built for the next race, which goes from Spain to Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, China, Auckland, Brazil, Lisbon, Lorient and Galway.

"Last time was brutal, so we know what we are getting ourselves into, but when you are taking on what is the pinnacle of the sport you expect the best sailors to be up against you," said Read, who is skippering the 90-foot Rambler at St. Barth's.

"This venue is magnificent, but we are sailing with a heavy heart after the death of Peter 'Spike' Doriean," said Read. "I am glad that his wife, Nicki, talked us into continuing sailing."

The Puma announcement comes just ahead of what, if dockside rumour is correct, is a return to the fray by Grant Dalton and Team New Zealand.

A round the world veteran, Dalton is expected to slot a Volvo campaign into a longer-term tilt at the America's Cup and in parallel with an Audi MedCup defence this year in Europe.

It is not expected that TNZ skipper Dean Barker will go offshore, but the whole management will be integrated and additional funding, thought to be, like the America's Cup support from Emirates Airlines, also to sourced overseas, keeps the whole team on track and prevents poaching of some of the best talent from TNZ.

The Volvo entry also indicates that Dalton expects the organisation of the next America's Cup to be a lengthy process. The next one, to be organised by Larry Ellison's San Francisco-based BMW Oracle, may stretch out until 2014 as the challenger group takes every opportunity to make its views known.

In Marseille, Britain's America's Cup skipper, Ben Ainslie, cruised effortlessly into the quarter finals of the opening World Match Race Tour regatta with Team Origin crew Iain Percy, Matt Cornwell and Christian Kamp.