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10 Oct, 2008 03:53

Another blow for Team Russia on eve of world race

Team Russia has suffered another blow just 24 hours before the start of the Volvo Ocean Race with founder Oleg Zherebtsov pulling out due to the death of his mother. He will now not be part of the crew manning the first leg from Alicante to Cape Town.

Although not a professional sailor, it’s feared his absence could affect morale. Even so, he says it has not lessened his determination to succeed in this year’s race.

It’s the latest episode in a turbulent few days for Team Russia, following a collision last weekend during the first port race. But Oleg says his long-term goals remain intact.

Apart from winning he wants to use the race to tell the world about his homeland.

He has pumped €16 million of his own cash into the project.

The son of a miner who thrived as an entrepreneur in Russia in the 1990s, he began selling shoes on the street and progressed to importing wine.

In 1993 he opened his first shop and mow he owns 50 hypermarkets across Russia.

Team Russia is the only privately financed team in this year’s race, competing against the likes of Puma, Telefonica and Ericsson.