Ellen MacArthur, onboard her 75-foot trimaran B&Q, has set a new solo time to the Equator of 8 days, 18 hours, 20 minutes.
MacArthur crossed the Equator into the southern hemisphere at 0230 GMT this morning (7.12.04) and subsequently took 14 hours and 3 minutes off the previous fastest solo time of 9 days, 8 hours, 23 minutes set by French sailor, Francis Joyon, during his successful solo around the world record attempt. Joyon crossed the Equator on day 9 of his round the world tour on 1st December 2003, he then went on to set a new solo round the world record time of 72 days, 22 hours, 54 minutes and 22 seconds - that is the record Ellen MACARTHUR is now trying to beat.
Ellen MacArthur started her solo attempt on 28.11.04 at 08:10:44 GMT and since crossing the start line has battled 40+ knots of wind in a low pressure system off the Spanish/Portuguese coast and in the last 48 hours has crossed the volatile region known as the Doldrums that sit just north of the Equator. Now she faces the next massive weather obstacle - the St Helena High - that can stretch thousands of miles across the South Atlantic blocking the way through to the Southern Ocean.