Tony Bullimore ready for solo world record attempt aboard 102ft cat 21/9/06

Doha 2006, the 102ft catamaran on which British round the world yachtsman Tony Bullimore will attempt to beat the 70 day barrier for sailing solo non-stop around the world, was named in Doha, Qatar yesterday, before leaving the Gulf next week bound for Hobart, and the start the 27,000-mile circumnavigation.

The campaign, which will promote the 2006 Asian Games in December, is sponsored by the Doha Asian Games Committee (DAGOC), the Qatar National Bank and Mistral Internet. Doha 2006 has undergone an extensive refit in Qatar, and Tony Bullimore and his delivery crew, will use the three-week voyage to Australia to shake down the new systems and equipment that have been fitted.

Bullimore and his team have made many improvements to the catamaran since she finished second in last year’s Oryx Quest round the world race.

The 67-year-old British yachtsman admitted that the record will be a difficult one to beat but said that there were several things going in his favour. “The first is the boat. Doha 2006 is a very high technology racing boat. We have taken a lot of extraneous weight out of the boat and when we remove her engines in Hobart prior to starting the record, she will be 3tonnes lighter than before.”

The second is his fitness and mental shape, and third is Lee Bruce, the top American weather router who will be guiding him around the world.

The 27,000-mile course will take Bullimore straight down into the Southern Ocean where the westerly winds in the Roaring Forty latitudes will slingshot him across the first 5,000 mile stage to Cape Horn. He will then follow the South American coast northwards to the Equator, from where he must pick his way through the calms of the Doldrums and those associated with the Azores high pressure system, to round the island of Flores before returning southwards to the Cape of Good Hope.

Lee Bruce will be advising him about impending weather systems on a daily, if not hourly basis and once in the Indian Ocean, the British yachtsman will rely on is weather router to help him to avoid the worst of the Roaring Forty winds that will speed Doha 2006 towards Cape Leuwin marking the Western tip of Australia, and passed the point where Bullimore famously spent five dark days capsized during the 1997/8 Vendee Globe Race.

Once across the Australian Bight, he must navigate his way through Bass Strait and back to Hobart – all in 70 days!

The course has been sanctioned by the World Sailing Speed Record Council which will time Bullimore’s start and finish from Tasmania and monitor his progress around the world. The distance is exactly the same as if he started from Ushant on the north-west tip of France where Dame Ellen MacArthur, the current record holder began her 71day 14hour 18 minute voyage last year.