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Bienvenidos to Delta Lloyd

18th September 2008

Ger O'Rourke and his eight crew guided their newly-sponsored VO70 into Alicante yesterday, after a six-day delivery from Cork. O'Rourke was barely off the boat before daring others to underestimate him. "We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think we can win," he said.

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O'Rourke will be counting on his underdog status, and the team's dramatic eleventh-hour entry to the race to garner support from Irish sources and those further afield, but with the smallest shore crew in the race (eight people including O'Rourke's daughter Deirdre) it will be an uphill struggle.

ABN Amro was the winning boat last time around, and was Ericcson's trial horse for their current campaign, which means she has pedigree but also a lot of fatigue. A lot of work has already been done on the boat, and now the real work begins, with most of the running rigging being replaced in Alicante, and a job list that's a lot longer than the crew list.

O'Rourke told reporters: “We are behind the eight-ball, make no mistake. We clearly are the underdogs and we aren’t fighting that. Preparation is vital in this race and we have not had much of that. If you look at our shore operation, there are eight people including my daughter. We will also be using some volunteers."

“In all, it means we have a lot of work to do, but I would not have entered this race if I thought we could not win it.”

“I don’t imagine we will be super competitive in the first leg because we need more time to learn about this boat, but by the second and third legs I think we can be up to speed.

"We are confident; we have a boat that has won this event before and we think it would be foolish for people to underestimate us.”

North sails are reportedly delivering a new wardrobe to Alicante for the Delta Lloyd team, which they will have little time to test over the next three weeks. O'Rourke stunned the ocean racing world with his announcement that he'd be taking a second-hand boat for a second circumnavigation, and despite things looking bleak a few weeks ago, he has secured a major sponsor for a last-minute 'everyman' project, that he insists can cut it with the best of them.

More on this story here

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