Qatar 2006 (ex-Maiden, ex Club Med) skipper announces his crew for the Oryx Quest maxi multihull race which starts on 5 February

Skipper Brian Thompson today revealed details of the 12 sailors who will join him in racing Qatar 2006 non-stop around the world in Oryx Quest 2005. The maxi-catamaran re-entered the water at the weekend after a month-long refit at the Q-Ship Fabrication Yard in Messaied, Qatar, where she has undergone a thorough overhaul under the supervision of Thompson and boat captain Jonny Malbon.

“Jonny and his team have done a fantastic job in record time,” said Thompson. “Fortunately we’ve found the boat to be in very good shape structurally, and have concentrated on renewing and checking basic equipment and saving as much weight as possible. The engines have been replaced with smaller generators, which require us to carry much less fuel; we have a complete new set of running rigging, new computers and refurbished navigation systems, and brand new sails – probably the best she’s ever had. I’d say Qatar 2006 is as competitive now as she’s ever been in her racing career.”

Malbon will remain aboard for the race, joining Thompson as the only other Briton in a very strong multi-national team. Principal watch captains Damian Foxall (Ireland) and Jacques Vincent (France) re-join Thompson from Steve Fossett’s blistering 58 day record run around the world in 2004, as does New Zealander Fraser Brown. From the ORMA 60′ multihull circuit come leading French skippers Thomas Coville, who is also third watch captain, and Karine Fauconnier, while Australian Sydney-Hobart Race and Global Challenge veteran Will Oxley will occupy the key position of navigator. Fellow-countryman Paul Larsen will be taking time off from his Sailrocket water-speed record project, and swelling the Kiwi contingent are double Olympic campaigner Sharon Ferris and bowman Andy Meicklejohn. Specialist boatbuilder Stan Delbarre from France and Swedish Volvo Race/America’s Cup/ORMA sailor Jonas Wackenhuth complete the line-up.

“It’s a very exciting prospect to be sailing with such a hugely talented and experienced team,” said Thompson. “These sailors between them have a huge fund of specialist multihull sailing knowledge, in the most cutting edge racing machines, not to mention hundreds of thousands of ocean racing miles and a broad range of technical skills. We haven’t yet counted how many circumnavigations we have between us, but I know that for Jacques alone this will be his eighth!”

Thompson is also looking forward to the new challenges the race will bring. “To have four huge racing machines such as these lining up against each other is simply awesome. It’s been a few years now since we’ve had a race of this calibre and it bodes well for the future of grand prix sailing. The course is fascinating and a real innovation – none of the great races have pushed down the length of the Indian Ocean before so that’s a bit of an unknown quantity for all of us.”

Qatar 2006 will start sailing and fine-tuning by the beginning of next week, in readiness for the race start at 14:00 local Qatar time (GMT 3) on 5th February 2005.