A new global battle began today

A new era in offshore racing began at 1400 local time today (GMT 3) when the crews of the four stunning maxi multihulls in the inaugural Oryx Quest 2005 raced away from the start line. The yachts made a running start ten miles off the shore of Doha, Qatar, before the red starting flare was fired by race supporter HE Sheikh Jassim Bin Thamer Al Thani, Vice President of the Qatar National Olympic Committee (QNOC).

Doha 2006 took an early lead in a 12-16kt north easterly wind, followed by Geronimo. Despite this being an endurance event over 60 days, Brian Thompson and Olivier de Kersauson indulged in some aggressive match racing in the opening hour. David Scully initially held third position in Cheyenne but Tony Bullimore’s Daedalus took the position shortly after the first mark.

The Tracy Edwards-inspired event, which for the first time pits 45 of the most accomplished international sailors against each other aboard four of the world’s fastest and most advanced sailing vessels, will be one of the toughest challenges in sport. The months of preparation are finally over and the teams can focus on achieving the unique goals that the event presents them.

Before leaving shore, Brian Thompson, skipper on Qatar 2006, said: “We are in a real hurry doing our final preparations, but everyone’s very excited. There’s been a lot of emotion as we say our farewells. I just can’t wait to get out there now!”

With the start just a few hours away, Geronimo skipper Olivier de Kersauson was typically relaxed but beginning to break a smile – something the Frenchman rarely shows. “We are ready,” he said. “It’s a good day for a start. Not too much wind, but enough. I am looking forward to this race. It’s different, and that makes it more interesting for me.” Oryx Quest 2005 is the first sailing event to pitch a trimaran (Geronimo) against catamarans in a race, rather than against the clock. “Finally we will see if the trimaran is a better concept for this kind of sailing, or if it’s a catamaran,” de Kersauson enthused.

On board Daedalus, Team Bullimore is looking forward to the personal achievements that can be taken from the race. “Compared to the other boats I’d say we’re one of the best prepared, having done a 700-mile shakedown on the journey from Bristol to Doha. Our aim in the race is to break all our personal records. If we can do that then I’ll commission a new boat – bigger and faster than Daedalus, although she’s pretty damn quick. There’s a real race on our hands!”