Nick Moloney's 2004 Vendée Globe campaign was given a huge boost today as Skandia announced crucial sponsorship

Nick Moloney’s 2004 Vendée Globe campaign was given a huge boost today as Skandia announced crucial sponsorship which enables him to secure Ellen MacArthur’s famous Open 60 (ex-Kingfisher that completed the 2000/2001 Vendée Globe) and prepare the boat for racing: Moloney commented: “Skandia’s support has come at a critical time for my Vendée project. With their funding I can now look ahead to modifying the boat for The Transat race in May this year, and set the final platform for my Vendée Globe assault. I’m really looking forward to working with Skandia to realise my dream of competing in this awesome event.”

Skandia’s association with the Offshore Challenges Sailing Team began last year with their three-year sponsorship of Nick’s sailing team-mate, Samantha (Sam) Davies, in the solo Figaro circuit. Skandia then co-sponsored Moloney and Davies to compete in the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre race last November on the Open 60 renamed ‘Team Cowes’.

Skandia have already provided sufficient funds for Moloney to secure the Open 60 for the year, prepare her for racing and to compete in one of the big solo races this year – The Transat from Plymouth to Boston starting on 31 May, and will assist Offshore Challenges with securing other partners to complete the support required for Moloney’s Vendée Globe participation.

Moloney was the first competitor to register his entry for the 2004 Vendée Globe race and will become the first Australian to ever compete in this non-stop round the world race that starts on 7 November 2004 from Les Sables d’Olonne on the west coast of France. The race has a rich history and has created many of today’s sailing legends. The Vendée Globe represents the third and final sailing goal that Moloney set himself nearly a decade ago, adding: “When I sat down and thought about what sailing goals I really wanted to achieve, three were completely evident. To race round the world with a crew [which he did competing in the 1997-98 Whitbread Round the World Race on board Dennis Conner’s ‘Toshiba’], to set the fastest circumnavigation of the globe non stop under sail with a crew [he was the only non-Frenchman among Bruno Peyron’s crew when they set a new non-stop round the world Jules Verne record of 64 days on board the maxi-catamaran ‘Orange’ in May 2002] and to race around the globe solo. I have been a professional sailor since I was 21 and I cannot imagine doing anything else, but these particular objectives I have set myself are the pinnacles of that career – The Vendée is the final pinnacle for me and I am prepared to give it everything to get there.”

Moloney has also competed in two America’s Cup campaigns, in 1992 and 1995. His CV boasts nine sailing World Speed Records and one Guinness World Record for becoming the first and still the only person to windsurf non stop across the Bass Strait from mainland Australia to the Island of Tasmania. Nick Moloney was awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2000 for services rendered to the sport of sailing.

Grant Wharington, owner-skipper of Skandia, the super-maxi yacht -winner of line honours in the 2003 Rolex Sydney-Hobart race, and Nick’s long term friend and sailing companion said: “It’s fantastic to see Set Sail go from strength to strength with fellow Australian yachtsman getting support from Skandia. We have benefited from their involvement in our Skandia Wild Thing campaign for some years now and it has been both a pleasure and certainly a competitive advantage to be supported by such a forward thinking and enthusiastic sponsor. We are still on a high from our recent Rolex Sydney-Hobart win and wish Nick all the best in this new and exciting venture. Go Team Skandia!”

John Bertrand, skipper of Australia II in the 1983 America’s Cup, the first man to wrest the trophy from the New York Yacht Club, knows Nick Moloney well. Nick was a sailing team member on oneAustralia, Bertrand’s 1995 America’s Cup campaign. Of this latest step towards the completion of Nick’s objectives, Bertrand said: “Nick Moloney is a winner. He has focused in on every goal he has ever set himself with unreserved commitment and application. His efforts have been extraordinary; Whitbread, Jules Verne record holder and now his ultimate challenge – the 2004 Vendee Globe. Extraordinary people do extraordinary things. Nick will continue to succeed.”

The announcement today coincides with Skandia Geelong Week in Victoria, Australia, which Nick is attending with Sam Davies. Nick grew up in the area and, with Sam, is helping competitors in Australia’s largest regatta to improve their technique through the Skandia Squad initiative.