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Green Team surfing downwind

11th January 2008
Green Team surfing downwind
Fast sailors are the first to catch the waves downwind. Surfing gives them the edge and it is a useful metaphor to describe the performances of two Irish offshore teams, one in gestation and one with a 1,000-mile lead in a two-handed global circumnavigation race.

If Green Team skipper Ian Walker needed any further inspiration in the quest to find the balance of the 10 million Euro required to finance October's Irish entry in the Volvo Ocean race, it comes in the form of a Kerryman riding the crest of a wave in the Southern Ocean.

Damian Foxall (38) on board the two-handed Paprec Virbac rounded Cape Horn last night with a 1,000 mile lead in an epic circumnavigation that should be completed by early February.

Victory in the Barcelona race, although far from assured at this stage, would be the sweetest of outcomes for Foxall who - though Ireland's most experienced sailor offshore - is still in search of a major title.

As the pair cleared the Southern Ocean yesterday, Foxall declared via satellite phone: "we're sailing straight at the mark". It is a reference to the fact that with 10,000 miles to go, the pair are surfing home to Barcelona.

With 280,000 nautical miles sailed in the past 25 years it is entirely appropriate that the Caherdaniel man is linked with the next big thing for Irish Sailing, and that is the 20 million Euro Green Team bid in October's Volvo Ocean race.

Foxall finished fifth in the last VOR on Ericsson and fourth previously on
board Tyco.

The team announced Walker, a British double Olympic medallist, as skipper for the Galway boat in December, but talks with Foxall for what would be his eighth circumnavigation will resume just as soon he steps on to the dock in February.

Last month Walker sailed on Ichi Ban, a Volvo 70, in the Sydney Hobart race to build experience for his first circumnavigation when he takes the helm of the Irish bid.

Walker was also talent-spotting for crew and he held various meetings with
designers and sailmakers.

Walker now balances a number of logistical issues, not least overseeing the
construction of the boat in China. The possibility of air freighting the massive hull from China to Europe still exists as a means of saving up to four crucial weeks - it is a cost-versus-time decision for the team that could run to 250,000 Euro on shipping alone.

In England, while it is true that the British Marine Federation will host the largest of any annual London event beginning this morning, it ignores the fact that its boat show is, for the only time in its 54-year history, fighting a rearguard action from some elements of the marine trade who have already staged a rival exhibition at BMF's former venue in Earls Court before Christmas.

Competition is a beautiful thing and one of the bi-products of the trade war that has erupted is a host of new features at this year's show as BMF
attempt to win back the hearts and minds of an industry worth £3 billion.

The spotlight is on boating legends Geoff Holt, Adrian Flanagan and Mike
Golding who, during the Show, will take to the main stage to share stories
of their adventures at sea.

It is expected that up to 22 new boat launches will be announced in London
over the next ten days. At least 25 Irish dealers are attending the show.

Visiting the show could not be easier from Dublin with London City airport a
Five-minute taxi ride from the show's famous Guinness stand. The show runs
until January 20th.
Published in Editors Blog Team

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