Aurelia Ditton is feeling the pressure as the clock ticks down to the start of the Route du Rhum this Sunday 26/10/06

With just three days to go to the start of the single-handed yacht race The Route Du Rhum, 26-year-old Aurelia Ditton is feeling the pressure. The reality of being in St Malo, moored up next to many of the sport’s superstars and realising that this race is really going to happen is an entirely different kettle of fish to the planning days.

Whilst Aurelia completed the 1,000-mile qualifier to enter the race see interview with Lia here , time spent on her new 40ft boat Dangerous When Wet is limited and every journey brings new knowledge and understanding of the boat. Winds picked up to 40 knots on the delivery trip from Hamble to St Malo and Aurelia had a good opportunity to learn how to put the boat through its paces. “I got quite bashed and it was really hard work, but it did really help my confidence. One thing it did do was make me realise how much I do really want to do the race! Which is good, I think!”

The final hurdle to get to the start line is to pass the race organisers scrutineering tests. “We’re jumping through the last race hoops here in St Malo! We’ve just had the scrutineers round and been given a list of half a dozen things to fix, but nothing major. I’m about to go up the mast for the first time on this boat to attempt one of the changes. Until now I’ve been sending up the riggers, but its time to face facts and do as much as I can myself, so that I learn as much as possible before the race.”

Aurelia is fully aware of the scale of the challenge in front of her. “Crossing the Bay of Biscay in November is extreme! The weather patterns are already very active with low-pressure systems one after another. You can’t help but think of what happened in the last race?.when boats were flipping, dismasting and even sinking!”

When asked about what its like to follow in the footsteps of Ellen MacArthur and French superstars such as Michel Desjoyeaux, Aurelia grins and says: “this race attracts the good, the great and legends – I’m really looking forward to it.”