The catamaran above promises to be top of its class when it is launched in March by the Queen before attempting to smash the record for circumnavigating the globe later in the year.

The design is sufficiently complex – the scheduled launch date of Team Philips planned for

January 12 was delayed for design reasons – to justify its £2.6 million price tag but not to deter

Sextant International.

The yacht insurer is sponsoring the vessel from its departure from Totnes in Devon until its planned return to port in February 2001, hopefully after it completes the round-the-world challenge.

Design predictions suggest Team Philips will be able to circle the globe in just 65 days. The record currently stands at 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 8 seconds.

The boat is the brainchild of Pete Goss, who during a previous circumnavigation race in 1996, turned back to rescue a fellow competitor whose boat had capsized. In recognition of his act of bravery, Goss received an MBE and the French Legion d'Honneur.