Western Australia superyacht builders to build one-design for the Antarctica Cup

Australian superyacht builders Austal are to build the one-design yachts for the Antarctica Cup round the world race. The company is near Fremantle, where the race organisation is based, and although it normally specialises in large aluminium motor yachts, its size and experience in building composite superstructures were among the reasons for the choice.

Austal is to build up to 15 of the 82ft Ron Holland designs. The race will not go ahead without a minimum of ten entries and if there are a sufficient number, a plug for the two moulds will be built in December. The time-scale is tight, with up to 15 yachts to complete in 10 months. The first boat will be a prototype, but may do the race if there are the maximum number of entries.

The plan is to hand over the finished yachts to each team two months before the start – that is, in October 2003.

To date, five teams have earmarked a place in the race, athough at this stage entries are a registration of interest; none is yet required to pay for the slot. That winnowing process will happen between now and 30 September, when each team has to commit itself by signing a yacht ownership agreement.

The most promising potential entrant is Paul Cayard. Others are former Volvo skipper and Olympic medallist Roy Heiner, Grant Wharington, an Australian businessman who owns a maxi sled, Wild Thing, and recently did several legs of the Volvo Race on djuice dragons, and Brit XL, a fledgling sports marketing set-up based in the UK. The fifth team is the so-called ‘Greybeard Syndicate’, a team of over-fifties headed by US sailor Buzz Boettcher.

The race organisers say they soon expect to announce interested parties from Brazil, Denmark, France, New Zealand and Ireland.