Tony Bullimore and his 'Team Daedalus' crew left for Doha, Qatar yesterday for the start of the Oryx Quest 2005

British yachtsman Tony Bullimore and his ‘Team Daedalus’ crew set out from Avonmouth at 3.30pm yesterday bound for Doha, Qatar, and the start of Tracy Edwards Oryx Quest 2005 around the world race starting on February 5.

Bullimore’s 102ft catamaran is the first of four maxi sized multihulls to be launched for the race and the tenacious skipper expects to complete the 4,000 delivery trip via Gibraltar and the Suez Canal early in January.

The British team has spent the past two months refitting the big cat for the 21,000 mile race, equipping her with a new sail wardrobe, rigging and electronics. This preliminary voyage is now being used to hone both boat and crew to a highly competitive state.

Once in Doha, her two main engines will be taken out as part of a weight saving programme that will shed 1.2 tons off the boat’s displacement. “That is going to make us a lot more competitive” said Bullimore yesterday, adding. “At the moment, we are ahead of the game and in a better state of preparation than any of the other teams. We have put together a top-class crew and believe that we stand a better than even chance of winning the $1million prize money.”

Team Bullimore will be one of four crews chasing a $1million prize in this first ever HSBC-sponsored global yacht race to start and finish in the Arabian Gulf.

The 21,000 mile race takes the fleet down the Indian Ocean into the Southern Ocean and around the five great capes of Australia, New Zealand, South America and South Africa before returning to the oil state of Qatar at the end of April, in what will undoubtedly be a new world record time for any circumnavigation.

Current entries for the Oryx Quest 2005 include Tony Bullimore’s Daedalus, Brian Thompson’s Qatar 2006, and Olivier de Kersauson’s Geronimo. A fourth entry will be announced shortly.