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Craftinsure 2012

Neal McDonald joins Victory Challenge

by Bert Willborg 10 Oct 2006 14:39 BST

He was skipper in the two most recent Volvo Ocean Races. He was mainsail trimmer and tactician for the America’s Cup challenger Sydney ’95 in 1995. One of the world’s most coveted sailors – Neal McDonald, 43 – is the latest recruit to Victory Challenge.

“The leadership qualities that he has displayed as skipper in two Volvo Ocean Races, his solid engineering training and his extensive experience as a sailor mean that he will be a another valuable reinforcement on the sailing team,” says Magnus Holmberg, skipper and helmsman.

With the naming of an experienced America’s Cup sailor, the American Morgan Larson, yesterday and with Neal McDonald today, a total of 15 new sailors have been recruited during the last four months for the now ongoing two-boat training.

Neal McDonald is the sixth Briton in the sailing team. Just like the other five (Simon Fisher, David Carr, Nik Pearson, Richard Sydenham & Ian Weighell), he was employed by GBR Challenge for the America’s Cup in Auckland in 2001.

But unlike his countrymen he never took part in the sailing. Instead he left the team to take part in the round the world Volvo Ocean Race, where he was skipper for ASSA ABLOY (which finished in second overall).

“It was due to my wife, I had to sail round the world to be with her.”

He is married to Lisa McDonald, who had accepted the position of skipper on Amer Sports Too in the Volvo Ocean Race 2001-2002.

In the last Volvo Ocean Race he was skipper for Ericsson Racing Team.

He also sailed round the world in 1997-1998, when the race was called the Whitbread Around the World Race, with Silk Cut.

His extensive merit list from the sailing world includes two wins in the classic Sydney-Hobart race, first place in the Gotland Runt in Sweden, as well as a World Championships win in the International 14 Class. He also represented the United Kingdom in the 1988 Olympics in the Flying Dutchman class.

He has been recruited as traveller/strategist for Victory Challenge. He is also the sailing team’s representative as regards mast design.

“These are challenges that suit me and when Magnus contacted me the timing was perfect. I have followed the America’s Cup teams and I am impressed by the improvements that Victory Challenge has made.

With the two-boat training the next phase has begun for the team, ahead of next year’s final pre-regattas of the 32nd America’s Cup and the challengers’ series itself, the Louis Vuitton Cup. It is then that it will finally be decided which of the eleven challengers will meet the defender, Alinghi, in the America’s Cup Match.

Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13 takes place between 3 and 7 April, the Louis Vuitton Cup between 16 April and 12 June. The America’s Cup Match begins on 23 June.

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