Ellen MacArthur's and Mark Turner's new round the world race is looking stronger and stronger


What a difference there’s going to be between the current Velux 5 Oceans round the world race — seven entries, five still going — and the Barcelona World Race, the two-handed non-stop race to be run this autumn by Ellen MacArthur’s and Mark Turner’s company OC Group.

Yesterday, the Franco-Irish team of Jean-Pierre Dick and Damian Foxall became the fifth team publicly to confirm (the others are Vincent Riou & Seb Josse; husband and wife team Dominique Wavre & Michele Paret; Alex Thomson & Andrew Cape; Jeremie Beyou & someone-yet-to-be-decided).

Mark Turner tells me there are three more definite entries to be announced “and maybe our two boats, the Open 60 we’re building and Kingfisher”. So the eventual line-up could be 10, and they will all be top level skippers and boats. Those sailors already committed have done no less than 45 round the world races between them.

Turner adds that as yet he does not have a sponsor for the new Farr-designed 60 building in Cowes — it’s funded “by a lot of loans right now” — but it won’t be Ellen. “Ellen won’t sail the Vendée Globe, and that’s part of the programme,” he says. They are taking to about half a dozen hopefuls, but the choice will depend on whether the sponsor has any particular nationality requirement. Long odds on this being someone British, I suspect. Maybe the odds are better on an Irishman?