And four more possibles in the pipeline, including one from Ireland

There are some signs that the field for the next Volvo Ocean Race could be larger than last time, with quite a different international mix. Besides the two teams already confirmed for the round the world series in 2008 – the Ericsson team skippered by John Kostecki, and Peter de Ridder’s Mean Machine – four more entries are “done and dusted” confirms racing director Andy Hindley.

Besides these there are four other promising prospects from Brazil, India and China. But the most likely of the next crop of national entries to happen is from Ireland, a country with a rich tradition of offshore yacht racing newly awash with the wealth to help it along. There hasn’t been an Irish round the world race boat since NCB Ireland (unkindly nicknamed ‘Nice Cruising Boat’) in the 1989/90 Whitbread Race.

An Irish entry, like the others, would likely come with a stopover as part of the terms. “You can imagine what that would be like!” enthuses Hindley.

Yes, I think I can.