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24 December 2004, 10:53 am
Latest From Ellen
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Ellen MACARTHUR

B&Q raced along at speeds in excess of 20 knots at times during the night, and clocked up 416 miles in the last 24 hours, but this has not prevented the advantage over Joyon being dramatically reduced as Ellen pushes B&Q north-east to position herself for the Christmas Day storm that is approaching from behind.
Crossing Joyon's track, for the first time on this Southern Ocean stretch, B&Q is now 120 miles north of Joyon and Ellen's lead of 15 hours yesterday morning, has all but disappeared to just 3 hours 37 minutes this morning. But that is of little concern to Ellen right now, as the biggest worry is getting to the north putting as much distance between herself and the huge depression in the south that is generating the gale to storm force conditions for tonight and tomorrow.

As Ellen said two days ago 'it is going to hit us, we can't get away from this one..' and as the storm approaches that much is now certain. Gale-force conditions are forecast bringing 35-45 knots of wing [Force 8], gusting in excess of 50 knots [Force 9-10] generating mountainous seas - it will be self-preservation both for Ellen and B&Q. The greatest concern is that the wind will be blowing from a northerly direction as Ellen tries to head east keeping in front of the storm. The two effects of this is that, firstly, the existing westerly swell will mix with the new northerly swell creating a dangerous mogul field of huge waves and, secondly, with the wind from the north, Ellen cannot run downwind which would decrease apparent wind angle [and thefore the effective wind strength] and surf down the northerly swell as this would take her south closer and closer to the centre of the depression and even more wind and even bigger seas. Ellen will be forced to try and sail on a reach, 90 degrees true wind angle, which is very powered-up and one of the most dangerous points of sail for a multihull as they are supercharged at this angle, and at increased risk of 'nose-diving'.

The strongest Wind Expected Christmas Day Between 35-45 knots, gusting 50 knots as north-westerly breeze starts to build in strength tonight. Ellen will try and stay ahead of the storm for as long as possible but Commanders' Weather now believe that the cold front will pass over B&Q on Christmas Day evening, exactly what Ellen didn't want to happen: 'If we're caught up by the front we will have 50 knots plus, but then very little wind behind it and very rough seas, that is absolutely the worst...'

Team Ellen
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