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Tuesday, 22 February, 2000, 15:18 GMT
Howard's Way meets Star Wars

yacht in Totnes
The world's biggest racing yacht takes shape in Totnes

Watch BBC South West's series of films featuring Pete Goss's super yacht:
Film One - The challenge
Film Two - The adventure begins
Film Three - The Race
Film Four - Following the dream

by John Sudworth

Tucked away in the rolling hills of rural south Devon, the town of Totnes has been harbouring a secret that is set to take the world of sailing by storm.

Working round the clock, 50 craftsmen are putting the finishing touches to one of the biggest, fastest, most technologically advanced racing yachts built.

Yachtsman Pete Goss inside one of the catamaran's giant hulls Pete Goss inside one of the giant hulls
The catamaran, built for Cornish sailor Pete Goss, is bigger than the Centre Court at Wimbledon.

There is enough room to park 80 cars between the two giant 120ft long hulls.


The massive unstayed masts will tower 130ft above water level, taller than 10 double-decker buses.

Now known as Team Philips it will take on the best in the world in the ultimate sailing challenge.

On new year's eve 2000, a fleet of giant multi-hulls will set sail from Barcelona in a non-stop race around the world.

No size restrictions - and no rules apart from the course itself.

"We've achieved the impossible," said Goss. "We simply refused to accept things couldn't be done."

More Star Wars than Howard's Way, the design team claims it is now the biggest carbon-fibre structure in the world. Aerospace materials give it fantastic strength against very little weight.


Yachtsman Robin Knox Johnson says the mast system may not be viable Robin Knox-Johnson has doubts about the boat
Perhaps the most radical aspect of the design is the unsupported masts. With no stays attached, there is nothing to hold the giant structures in place but the strength of the hull itself.

"Will that work?" asked President of the Sail Training Association, Sir Robin Knox Johnston. "That's the one uncertainty in my mind."

Pete Goss is no stranger to adventure. In 1996 he became an overnight hero when, racing single-handed around the world, he turned his boat back into hurricane force winds to rescue fellow competitor Raphael Dinelli.

Pete Goss talks about his hopes of victory in a round the world race Pete Goss hopes his yacht will be a world-beater
His actions saved the Frenchman's life, and Goss was awarded the Legion d'Honneur by President Chirac.

High risk

But this challenge will be his biggest. Taking on the freezing waters of the Southern Ocean with a crew of only six, at speeds of up to 40 knots, it is a high-risk race.

They face tough competition. American millionaire Steve Fossett on board PlayStation is already breaking records. Now the day of reckoning is almost here.

On 29 February, Team Philips will be taken out of her Totnes warehouse and launched on the river Dart.

As the dream becomes a reality the team hopes it has created a marvel, not a monster.

You can see the films about Pete Goss's yacht every night this week on BBC South West's Spotlight programme at 1830 GMT, starting 22 March.
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See also:
10 Jan 98 |  Sport
Hero sailor Yachtsman of the Year

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