Sussex Challenge opts for Dolphin

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The Sussex Challenge pushed a step further towards the start line of the 1997 Whitbread Round the World Race yesterday, when skipper Jacky MacGillivary signed a pounds 250,000 contract to buy Dolphin & Youth, the Whitbread 60 boat she campaigned in the 1993 race.

"I couldn't be happier," said MacGillivary, who added that she now had guarantees for pounds 2.3m out of a projected budget of pounds 3.8m. The money for the yacht would, said Brendan Foley, mean that all the loose ends would now be tied up from the Dolphin project, originally launched to help the disabled take part in the Whitbread.

The Sussex Challenge, whose main sponsor so far announced is Bupa International, will continue to rely on an amateur crew which hopes to have the boat back in the water by 20 May. They will then conduct a series of tests, take part in various events including the Round the Island Race, and undertake a programme of modifications to the boat in conjunction with its designer, Rob Humphreys.

Later this week, the pounds 10m Swedish challenge for the Whitbread will announce its male team skipper in Southampton, with strong indications that it will be Britain's Lawrie Smith. They will also name the designer for their two new boats, one for an all-female crew.

Crisis talks were due to come to an end in Switzerland yesterday on the future of the Grand Mistral race, which is scheduled to start in September. Options available to organiser Pierre Fehlmann are cancellation, postponement, or massive new funding to increase the entries from the present two or three to between six and eight.