Skandia today unveiled the yacht that international yachtsman, Nick Moloney, will race in this winter's Vendée Globe

Skandia, the international long-term savings company, today unveiled the yacht that international yachtsman, Nick Moloney, will race in this winter’s Vendée Globe. Three leading international fund management companies, Invesco Perpetual, Gartmore Investment Managers and Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, have signed up with Skandia to create the Skandia MultiManager campaign which will fund Moloney’s decade-long goal to complete a historical hat-trick in round the world sailing. Invesco Perpetual, Gartmore and Merrill Lynch Investment Managers are partners in Skandia’s pioneering MultiManager investment programme that is celebrating its 20-year anniversary this year.

All four companies are now partners in the first entry by an Australian into the Vendée Globe; a three-month solo non-stop circumnavigation starting from Les Sables d’Olonne in France on 7 November 2004. Moloney’s Open 60 was named ‘Skandia’ today and carries the colours of Skandia as well as those of Invesco Perpetual, Gartmore and Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, who will also benefit from corporate hospitality and marketing opportunities through their distribution partnership with Skandia. This combined investment has allowed Moloney to acquire the four-year old boat once campaigned by Ellen MacArthur to second place in the last edition of the Vendée Globe in 94 days and four hours; still the third fastest solo time around the world.

A thorough three-month refit means Moloney, 36, feels he has a boat capable of claiming a top five position against an expected fleet of 20 Open 60s, including five new designs. In the Vendée nothing is sure, and just to finish in itself an enormous achievement, but to have a boat capable of a good result is a great boost for Moloney commented: “I’m the proudest skipper in the world at the moment. It’s hard to describe how honoured and indebted I feel to Skandia, Invesco Perpetual, Gartmore and Merrill Lynch Investment Managers for this opportunity and how nervous I am to justify the huge trust they’ve put into this project and me. The Vendée is the Everest of sailing, and for me it will certainly be the biggest challenge of my sailing career.

Skandia’s association with the Offshore Challenges Sailing Team – the company that manages Moloney’s Vendée programme, began last year with their three-year sponsorship of Nick’s team-mate Sam Davies. Sam competes full-time on the solo Figaro circuit. Skandia then co-sponsored Moloney and Davies to compete in the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre race from France to Brazil last November on the Open 60, then named Team Cowes.

Skandia had already provided sufficient funds for Moloney to secure the Open 60 for the year, to prepare her for racing and to compete in The Transat starting on 31 May. Virtually all of the yachts Moloney will race against in the Vendée are using The Transat as a qualifier or final test of form. Moloney continued: “Competing in The Transat will be a real feather in the cap for us. It’s an extremely tough race, both physically and mentally but it will give me a lot of confidence in Skandia in her new form. I can start the Vendée knowing no stone will be left unturned.”

Should Moloney complete the Vendée Globe, it will be a monumental and record-breaking triple in round-the-world sailing and the final of three ambitious goals he set himself at the age of 25. The first was to compete in a fully crewed round the world race with stops. This he did when he was selected to race on Dennis Conner’s (of America’s Cup fame) entry Toshiba in the 1997-98 Whitbread Race.

The second of his massive goals was completed when, two years ago in 2002, he won the Jules Verne Trophy for the quickest non-stop lap of the planet. Moloney was the only English-speaking crewman on the giant French 110ft catamaran Orange when she set a blistering time of 64 days. That record stood until April this year.

His third, and most challenging goal is a non-stop solo lap of the planet. By finishing the Vendée, he will be the first person to circumnavigate the world in these three different events. “The Vendée is the final pinnacle for me and I am prepared to give it everything,” he added.