Project backed by Nautor's new Italian owner

Former Whitbread Round the World Race winner Grant Dalton has today confirmed that he will be entering the seventh boat in next year’s Volvo Ocean Race.

“I am doing the Volvo. The first boat is in the build. The second will start as soon as we can,” said the Kiwi skipper, shortly to set sail as co-skipper ofClub Medin The Race. Dalton’s Volvo entry has come about in an unusual manner. In a similar style to Jaguar or Bentley returning to Le Mans after many years absense, so Nautor, under its new Italian owners, are keen to re-establish Swan’s name on the international racing circuit. After all it was a Swan 65 which won the first Whitbread Round the World Race. “They want to get back to their roots in racing,” says Dalton.

There is a slight dichotomy at present over the designer of the boat. Nautor want German Frers, who has designed a majority of their range, while Dalton, of course, prefers Bruce Farr with whom he has worked on the last three campaigns he has mounted on this event. The result is that his will be a two boat campaign, with the first boat designed by Frers, the second by Farr. Whichever is faster to sail in the Volvo Ocean Race in September.

Time is fast running out for the campaign, hampered further by Dalton sailing in The Race. “We’re late, we’re really late. We’re right up against it,” admits Dalton. However the construction of the first boat has started at La Ciotat in the south of France, in the same yard where the fleet of Grand Mistral/Maxi One Designs yacht were built. Ben Mennem is running the building with Bouwe Bekking acting as project manager in Dalton’s absence. The first boat is due for launch in mid-May.

Although the project is the brainchild of Nautor, Dalton says that a number of sponsors are in the process of being brought on board. As a result the name of the boat is yet to be announced.