First ever Australian entry in the former Whitbread round the world race is to be on a grand scale

An Australian syndicate has announced its intent to take part in the Volvo Ocean Race in 2001, with one of the most imaginative plans yet unveiled. The Oceanic syndicate will be the first ever Australian entry in what was the Whitbread round the world race. It is to build two brand new Bruce Farr-designed V.0.60s for the race side by side, and will test and fine-tune them together.

The syndicate is headed by Jim Close (31), an Australian who has already sailed three Whitbread races, most recently as watch captain on Innovation Kvaerner on the last race. The second boat will be skippered by Nick Moloney (30), the sailmaker from the One Australia team who is also an experienced Whitbread hand, having sailed on Toshiba in the last race. Moloney also holds the more dubious distinction of being the first – and, unsurprisingly, the only – person to windsurf across the notorious Bass Strait.

The team also includes well known Whitbread veterans such as Andrew Cape, a highly skilled navigator, meteorologist Roger Badham and Olympic medallists Colin Beashel and David Giles.

But what makes this project significantly different from others is the means by which it will be supported and publicised. The Oceanic entries will be accompanied by a 300ft fast catamaran, of the ferry type currently in operation commercially throughout the world. The syndicate says that it will be capable of far exceeding fleet speeds, ‘at the same time providing storage of equipment and function as the team’s media, hospitality and sponsor trade show centre in the stopover ports.’

This platform will also allow the team to shoot a panoramic IMAX film during the race which will be part of a film of the entire project. The film will, they say, ‘tell the compelling and dramatic story of Oceanic, from the boat building, crew selection and the ultimate challenge of man against the sea in the most gruelling of team sport events.’