Russian sailor Yazykov joins as entries firm up at 18

Russian sailor Viktor Yazykov is one of the latest sailors to lend weight to the entry list for this year’s Around Alone race. The official deadline for entering is today and the list now stands at 19: eight of them Open 60s, ten Open 50s or Open 40s, and one in the production racer class.

This is an indication of the number of boats that will be on the start line in Newport, Rhode Island in September, but by no means a definitive guide. It is possible several may drop out before then, and organisers Clipper Ventures say one or two more could even be added to the list.

They confirm that a few skippers still seeking sponsorship are hedging their bets and would be prepared to accept a financial penalty by entering between now and the final cut-off date of 1 August. Britain’s Mike Golding is one of these. However, most of the famous Open 60 skippers, including Ellen MacArthur on Kingfisher, have plumped instead for the French-based Route du Rhum, which overlaps with the Around Alone.

Among the heavyweights in Class 1, for Open 60s, is Bernard Stamm in Bobst Group Armor Lux, New Zealander Graham Dalton in his brand new Open 60 Hexagon and Thierry Dubois in Solidaires. Marc Thiercelin has signed up, but is still minus a boat, having sold his ActiveWear after the last Vendée Globe.

Russian skipper Viktor Yazykov has entered Class 2 with his new Open 50 Winds of Change, which is just being completed in Italy. She shares the same name as his previous Open 40, in which he competed in the 1998/9 race, and is a collaboration between Yazykov and the Owen Clarke Design Group, the same team that is behind Graham Dalton’s new 60.

Famously Yazykov, a tough former KGB agent, got an infected elbow just out of Cape Town in the last race and had to operate on himself following e-mailed advice from a doctor. He finished the last Around Alone in 6th place overall.

Yazykov will be joined in Class 2 by American Brad Van Liew, among others. Van Liew bought Mike Garside’s former Finot-designed Magellan Alpha last year and so has a boat that should give the Russian a challenge. Neither skipper is yet sponsored, however.

One who has been forced to drop out is Britain’s Alex Bennett, who abandoned his Open 50 in the Atlantic late last year. The boat has recently been salvaged, but is described by Bennett as ‘trashed’ and he is currently without funds for a repair or a charter. See our story further down on this site.

The Venturer class, for production boats between 40 and 60ft which fall outside the IMOCA rules that govern the Open classes, has attracted only one entry so far. This is a repeat venture by 67-year-old George Stricker from the USVI. Stricker also competed last time in his previous boat Rapscallion, but was forced to retire in New Zealand after rig and boom damage. This time he is back in a 60-footer.

For the full entry list and details, see