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14 December 2004, 06:55 pm
Optimism Grows
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Ellen MACARTHUR

Optimism continues to grow that Ellen MACARTHUR will be able to put the technical turmoil behind her and carry on with her solo, non-stop round the world record attempt on the 75-foot multihull, B&Q
'The difference in my outlook between now and 48 hours ago is absolutely black and white. We've had some terrible issues and it really did seem like the odds were stacked against us for a long period of time. The boat seems back on track now. The [battery] charging seems under control - there have been a few issues with it but nothing too bad - and it's actually possible to be inside the boat and charge the batteries at the same time so things are much, much better, my outlook is much more positive.'

Taking advantage of the good 18 knot northerly-conditions that are forecast to veer further to the north-west and increase as the day goes on, is sailing fast in a south-easterly direction: 'Right now, we're sailing with 18 knots of breeze with full main and genoa. The breeze is going between 18 and 21 knots and our boat speed is sitting around 20 knots - so we're nice and quick on this flat sea. It's fantastic sailing - it's really great, the boat feels in her absolute element.'

B&Q'S 26-hour lead over Joyon, all but disappeared in the last 48 hours as Ellen pushed south to cross a cold front and deal with the technical problems onboard. MacArthur managed to retain a 4-hour lead by 0710 GMT, and is slowly building on this time at each hourly update. Having passed north of the Tristan da Cuhna island this morning [Joyon passed further north of the island, B&Q is currently 240 miles south of IDEC's track], B&Q; is approximately 1430 miles south-west of the Cape of Good Hope. 'We're looking at a depression following us at the moment and the faster we sail, the longer we're going to stay ahead of it and, in other words, sail the boat further east. So at the moment, we're maximising the boat speed to the east and just keep trucking on as fast as we can. That depression will go over us tomorrow and on Thursday the front will go through, and then it's going to be a case of gybing south for a while to maximise the best VMG [Velocity Made Good - speed made towards to the finish] from that wind angle. So, at the moment things are looking pretty good...looking like it's probably going to blow 40 knots in the depression but, hopefully, not for too long - mainly in the gusts when the front goes through, so it should be alright.'

Ellen's mindset has gone from one of utter despair to sheer optimism this morning: 'The highlight of this morning was seeing four albatross just as it came light, and they were the first of the trip... this has certainly changed the vista this morning!' Go to http//:www.teamellen.com and click on the audio/video icon to listen the Ellen's audio in full.

Three hours sleep can make a lot of difference but for Ellen MacArthur it made a world of difference to her record attempt. Read below her email sent back from B&Q;...

Team Ellen
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