"It's a tall order," admits the 67-year-old about his solo round the world record bid


Earlier this week, Tony Bullimore left the Maldives on his voyage from Qatar to Hobart where, in a few weeks’ time, the 67-year-old Bristolian will embark on his attempt to break Ellen MacArthur’s 71-day solo round the world record.

This will be Bullimore’s third round the world race in this boat in six years. This time he’ll be following a different course: round Cape Horn, turning north of Azores and sailing back through the Southern Ocean, a route that is officially recognised by the World Speed Sailing Record Council as an alternative to the usual Ushant-Ushant route.

To ready his 102-ft catamaran Doha 2006, he has lightened her by 3 tonnes and added furling gear. Commenting on his chances, he says: “It’s a tall order, but Ellen’s wasn’t a breathtaking time. The almighty element, the make or break of it, is the weather. But my boat can do a steady 500 miles a day, and it’s all about consistent days’ runs.”

His Nigel Irens-designed catamaran is a modern marvel in itself. Built in 1983 for Mike Birch as TAG Heuer, she won the Jules Verne Trophy in the hands of Peter Blake and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and was Tracy Edwards’s Royal & SunAlliance before being bought by Tony. He reckons the boat has done “350,000-400,000 miles, easy.”

As for himself, he says: “I’d like to have got fitter, but I’m more or less on my own and I haven’t had time. But I feel up to it. I’ll be all right.”

Follow Tony’s progress at www.teambullimore.com