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Racing competitors form alliance

MARCH 22 — Two accomplished British offshore sailors are collaborating to help increase their respective chances of winning the 2008-’09 Vendee Globenon-stop round-the-world yacht race.

Mike Golding, a five-time circumnavigator and the first person to race around the world in both directions, has agreed to work with solo sailor Dee Caffarinext year in preparing their identical Open 60s for the race, news reports say. Last year Caffari became the first woman to sail non-stop and single-handed around the world against the prevailing winds and currents. The pair is expected also to share budgets and spares.

“I want to do as well as I can in the next Vendee Globe,” Golding says in a report. “Whilst the two-boat alliance might not accelerate my progress as much as Dee, it is still acceleration. I need to push myself as hard as I can to move further up the ladder.”

Caffari, who sailed a Challenge 72-foot Class yacht in her previous circumnavigation, does not have much experience sailing the Open 60 class racing yachts, she says in an interview with Soundings. The Open 60 she will sail in the 2008 Vendee Globe, which is still under construction, will be an exact replica of Golding’s. If she completes the Vendee, Caffari will become the first woman to sail around the world in both directions.

“[Open 60s] are at the cutting edge of technology and sail at unbelievable speeds,” Caffari says. “This will be a huge step in my sailing ability and will be a steep learning curve.”

The Vendee Globe is a non-stop single-handed circumnavigation raced by 20 of the world’s top sailors every four years. The 2008-’09 installment is slated to kick off Nov. 9, 2008, from Les Sables d'Olonne, France.

Jason Fell