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6 December 2004, 05:34 pm
Latest From Ellen
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Ellen MACARTHUR
Round The World

The Doldrums, never to be underestimated in their capacity to test the very limits of any sailor let alone a solo skipper, lived up to their reputation last night for Ellen MacArthur onboard B&Q.
It proved to be a sleepless night as the wind strength and direction varied in extremes: 'The sky was full of huge great big black clouds and there is no moon at the moment which is even worse as it's very hard to see what's coming. You're constantly battered by squalls and rain in the clouds. One minute you've got 5 knots of wind which obviously you need completely different amount of sails for, and then 20 knots of breeze heading in the same direction. So, I must have changed sails about 6 or 7 times during the night.' Ellen now reports a new breeze from the south-east and latest data shows B&Q making 11 knots of boat speed in 11.8 knots of breeze from the SE by south. Beyond the Equator the breeze is forecast to continue the trend to the left (further east): 'The Equator is well south of the Doldrums area so we should keep the breeze until we get there and after that the breeze should slowly free off so we can bear away from the wind and go faster down the coast of Brazil before plunging down round the high pressure of the St. Helena High and into the Southern Ocean...'

Not only do the Doldrums effect the pace of B&Q but it is also physically debilitating: 'I'm losing a lot of fluids - I'm trying to drink a huge amount because it's just so warm on board, particularly when I'm charging the batteries - the cabin turns into even more of an oven! I've got lots of salt sores all over my hands and my arms, which appear when you get sweaty for a long period of time. There's no escape from it...'

The effects of the Doldrums, and B&Q's course to the west of Joyon's track, means Ellen's advantage has been halved to just under 8 hours but it is expected that B&Q will cross the Equator well in advance of Joyon's time of 9 days, 8 hours, 23 minutes. B&Q must cross the Equator before 16:33:44 GMT on Tuesday (7.12.04). However, it is predicted she could cross between midnight and 0300 GMT which means, Ellen could take as much as 16 hours off Joyon's time. But expect to see further losses on the Omega clock as Joyon's track [he crossed the Equator further to the east at around 26 degrees west] will stay inside to the east of Ellen's track for the next couple of days...

The Royal Navy's HMS Iron Duke en route from the Falklands Islands to the UK, contacted Ellen's shore team today to set up a rendezvous...The 170 ship's crew under the command of Commander Peter Carden, have been tracking B&Q's progress south and the Type 23 Frigate and sent out their Lynx helicopter to scout for B&Q making contact at approx 1615 GMT this afternoon... The Royal Navy has promised to send the photos on...!

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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