Team Philips set for launch
by Andy McKenzie
Team Philips are optimistic their eagerly awaited launch will go ahead as scheduled on February 29.
- Fears that adverse weather conditions would force the team to abandon plans to hoist the revolutionary catamaran
into the River Dart in Devon, England have eased.
- "If I was a betting man and I wanted to see the boat hit the water, Id turn up," said
Pete Goss, skipper of Team Philips.
- Lee Bruce, the teams meteorologist, has been studying historical data and current trends in the hope
of determining if the 120ft long craft - the worlds largest pure carbon structure - will finally make it into
the water for the first time.
- "Im more optimistic than I was this time yesterday [February 27]," said Bruce. "There has
been a good reduction in the wind behind the front which passed through overnight. We hope that history will repeat
- Because of the boats insurance policy, Team Philips can only be lifted into the water if the wind strength
is below 15 knots.
- There was earlier disappointment, when the original launch plans had to be refined, with the 135ft masts
each worth £1m on the open market - needing an extra weeks work. They will now be added once the boat
has hit the water and moved to the Dart Marina, Dartmouth.
- "This has always been a major technical challenge," added Goss. "It is difficult to apply definitive
timescales to something like this. Its completely new - like the Wright brothers wheeling their plane out of
the shed and winging it."
- The interest in the team has been growing, with more than 9,000 people turning up to watch the finishing touches
being applied to the boat on February 27.
- The organisers have estimated that 20,000 people could be present when, weather permitting, the catamaran is
hoisted into the River Dart by a 225 tonne crane.
- Goss plans to enter the boat in the Jules Verne Trophy in March in preparation for The Race, a non-stop, no
assistance, round the world event, starting on December 31, 2000 from Barcelona, Spain.