Sailing: Edwards' project runs aground

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Plans by Tracy Edwards to lead an all-woman challenge for the fastest time around the world have been delayed from the end of this year to early 1998.

Her main problem has been to find sufficient sponsorship for a project that has already cost about pounds 300,000 to buy the 92ft catamaran Enza - in which Sir Peter Blake and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston set the 74-day, 18- hour record - and refit it at Hamble.

Edwards, who put together the all-woman Maiden project for the 1989-90 Whitbread Round the World Race, has already recruited most of the nine crew who would sail with her, but she said yesterday: "Due to delays in the advancement of sponsorship money to the project, it would not be safe to set off in 1977 as our training time has now been cut too short to bring the crew and boat up to their full potential."

Edwards was earlier said to have mortgaged her house in Wales and yesterday thanked the Royal Bank of Scotland for "the courage and vision to believe in this adventure since the beginning". The boat is due to go back in the water early next year for the training programme to begin.

There was also a delay at the International Sailing Federation annual general meeting in Brighton yesterday over consideration of the classes, including the new high performance dinghy, for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

But the 49er was given a further boost with endorsement by the Sailing Committee, and the Events Committee - which picks the boat line-up today - endorsed the 470, Laser, Hobie Cat and J22 for the 1998 World Championship of Sailing in Dubai.

The Australian model Elle Macpherson is to base her Whitbread racing team, skippered by Adrienne Cahalan, at Fremantle, the second stopover.