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28 June 2004, 11:12 am
The Final Phase For Ellen
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WSSRC Transatlantic Record

There is now less than 20 hours remaining on the clock for Ellen to cross the official finish line off the Lizard and break the current single-handed record currently held by Laurent BOURGNON (FRA) on Primagaz.
She has one more gybe to do to get onto the layline for the finish and is really suffering out in the Atlantic. Here is her latest report.

It's been brilliant - wind direction tonight been absolute glam... Really scared it was going more to the west but it hasn't but we've been sailing straight down the direct route for the last 5 hours... Commander's say it will go west between 9-12hrs GMT and we will have to gybe so we just need to play the shifts to benefit the most and we can only afford time to gybe once so it has to be the right time...

I think we still have a chance of breaking the record but it's going to be very, very close and it all depends on how long this breeze we've got with us stays - it's as simple as that. We will hang on to the breeze as long as we can, keep driving the boat and I think we will have to do one more gybe to come into the finish but it's going to be very, very tight but there is a chance...

I did have some problems in the middle of the night with the wind instruments when they went completely haywire which meant the autopilots steering the boat lost control which was a slightly scary moment. It was an electrical problem and there was a small glitch in the callibration - we don't realy know how but we solved it with the help of B&QG which was a huge relief to have the wind instruments back for this final part. It was a bit of a scare so its good to be back on track and doing 20 knots again.

We have had pretty good averages during the night but one thing that hasn't happened is that we thought the breeze would get up to 30 knots in the night which it hasn't and we have had breeze of about 20-22 knots all night. So luckily that is enough to keep us sailing over 20 knots. We just have our fingers crossed that this breeze holds out throughout the day and for as long as possible so we can average 20 knots and knock that average down to have a real good chance at breaking the record.... It's going to be very, very tight there is no doubt about it. At this stage, it's a very hard record to break.

Towards the finish it's going to be quite tactical because at the moment we are heading straight for that point [off the Lizard] but the wind is going to shift so we are going to have to gybe to come into there which is going to be a much tighter angle. So trying to judge that gybe right so we don't waste any time and get the angles right is going to be quite difficult because a boat like this you can't just gybe on an instinct you have to prepare everything and it takes time. So if we have to do more gybes we will definitely lose and we don't have any time to lose...

I'm feeling very, very tired. I did manage to get some sleep tonight which is a miracle. Yesterday I was very nervous, felt stressed all day and couldn't really eat - it's been full on hard work and I know we've got almost 24 hours to go and it's going to be a hard slog with a lot more effort today. We are approaching the shipping lanes now and there will be a lot more traffic around, more boats, and fishing boats as we arrive on the continental shelf and all that's going to complicate things even further. So is going to make it all important to have your finger on the pace.

I was pretty close to my very first hallucination last night...I slept in the cuddy and then woke up in a start, didn't really know where I was but checked around the cockpit and then I could see there was a ship in the distance. As I got closer I could see her lights and I was convinced it was another competitor who then told me the ship was a first aid ship sailing with him and I am thinking he can't do that, you can't take a ship with you across the Atlantic! It took me a few minutes to realise I was imagining the whole thing...!

I have only boiled the kettle three times since leaving the States so that has told you how many hot meals I've had in the past six days!
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