With the start of the Volvo Ocean Race just days away, Nautor Challenge skippers Grant Dalton and Lisa Charles McDonald have chosen their steeds

Nautor Challenge has announced that Grant Dalton will sail Amer Sports One, the Frers designed VO60, leaving their female skipper with the Farr-drawn boat Amer Sports Too. Dalton’s initial scepticism about the Frers design has clearly been overcome but, like the Merit campaign in the last Whitbread, Dalton will be wondering throughout the race whether he picked the right one.

“There was nothing in it,” said Dalton. “I would be happy to sail either boat around the world. As we always suspected, there was no really clear answer. The boats perform differently in different conditions. We have hard data on the performance of each boat in various conditions.

“We have taken that data and run it against weather data from previous races. Again there were no clear answers. In some years the Frers would have won and in others it would have been the Farr. A very small change in weather – for example a little more heavy weather upwind or a lot of moderate downwind sailing – could have dramatically changed the outcome.

“In the end it was a subjective decision. We could have played it safe and taken the Farr boat because the Farr people are very experienced designers to the v.o.60 rule and we knew we would have a boat the equal of any in the fleet. The other option was to go with the Frers design because in the testing it has shown the potential to be a hard boat to beat.”

McDonald was delighted with her Farr boat. “We have a superb race yacht, the equal of any of the Farr designs in this fleet. It has been carefully prepared. We have been given a really good opportunity to do well and make history in this race. We have the boat and now it’s up to the crew to sail smart and show the seven male crews in the VOR that we’re competitive.”

The Volvo Ocean Race starts on 23 September and the boats have already gathered in Ocean Village for assembly week – all the more reason to get down to Southampton!