French yachtsman Alain Colas plans to sail a giant 236-foot (75 metres) four masted schooner in the Singlehanded Transatlantic Race, which starts on 5 June.
LV ZOOM IN the Club Mediterranee towed out of Toulon harbour (four shots)
SV observers and officials on board
SV AND GV sails being raised on four master (2 shots)
LV Club Mediterranee with four sails raised
CU stern of yacht
LV vessel with jib raised sailing past smaller craft (L2 shots)
Initials RH/1729 RH/MW/MR/1744
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Background: French yachtsman Alain Colas plans to sail a giant 236-foot (75 metres) four masted schooner in the Singlehanded Transatlantic Race, which starts on 5 June.
The huge vessel, named the Club Mediterranee, cost GBP750,000 ($1.5 million US) and had its first outing under sail at Toulon, in southern France on Sunday (21 March).
But the organiser of the race, the Royal Western Yacht Club of England, has insisted that Colas complete a 1,500 mile (2500 km) singlehanded proving voyage before he can compete in the June race.
He will be allowed to use a reserve skipper on the 500-mile (750 km) qualifying voyage, which has to be completed by June 5.
Colas, won the last race in 1972.
Apart from the obvious difficulty of handling such a massive vessel singlehanded -- it is twice as big as the next largest craft competing -- Colas is still on crutches after seriously injuring his right foot in May last year.
The race will be the fifth for the 3000-mile (5000 kms) crossing from Plymouth, to Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.A. It was first won in 1960 by Sir Francis Chichester in Gipsy Moth 3.
There are 197 entries in this year's event.