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26 November 2004, 02:15 pm
Ellen To Leave On Record Attempt
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B&Q Castorama


B&Q skipper, Ellen MACARTHUR, confirmed today she will depart Falmouth (UK) tomorrow (Saturday 27.11.04) at approximately 1400 GMT to make her way to the start line area off Ushant (France).
B&Q will leave her pontoon at Port Pendennis Marina next to the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth with her support crew to set-up the boat and allow Ellen to get some rest before crossing the Channel on her own to the start line between Ushant and the Lizard. Crossing the busy shipping lanes of the Channel at night will not allow Ellen any sleep before the start planned on Sunday.

Weather routers, Commanders' Weather, have predicted good starting conditions for Sunday morning between 0900-1200 GMT. But with 36 hours to go to a possible start, Ellen will make the final decision of when to actually cross the start line the night before when the latest weather models can be assessed. There is another good weather window developing for Wednesday/Thursday next week (1st/2nd December) that might offer MacArthur a further opportunity to start.

'This is what we have been planning for, working for and waiting for - it looks like we have a weather window to go and for we are planning to take it. For sure, I am feeling both excited and nervous - to go out and try and beat Francis' record is going to be very, very hard. I do not underestimate the challenge ahead and I have said before, Francis' record deserves to stand for a long time but I am going to have a go at getting around and setting a new record...if I didn't think it was possible, I wouldn't be here on the dockside today.

The weather models for a start on Sunday are good but the reality is the weather is constantly changing and although we can try to predict what the situation will be in another 36 hours, we could find ourselves in a situation where starting on Sunday is not so good. I will be looking at the weather constantly between now and then and will make the final decision on timing Saturday night, with there always being a possibility of delaying if the weather has changed in a big way.

To break this record we will need the weather on our side to try and average over 15 knots around the planet. I will need to keep the boat together as best I can and myself too, in what will be a punishing environment - on top of that we will definitely need a bit of luck to carry us around quickly and safely.

All I can say, is that we are ready... B&Q is a fantastic boat that I have sailed halfway around the world already and pushed to her limits on the transatlantic record attempt in June so I know what she is capable of...'

Winds will be SSW on Saturday and Saturday night for the delivery to the start area. Wind speeds 8-14 knots midday Saturday and increasing to 14-20 knots for few hours during the afternoon, but wind direction will be more SW when the wind speeds increase.

A cold front will pass between 0600-1200UTC Sunday. Winds NW 20-30 knots decreasing through day to 16-22 knots by 1800 GMT. Sea state 4-7 feet from the NW and WNW. Few early showers possible with cold front then mix of clouds and sunshine.

Two obstacles are ridge of high pressure developing from WNW to the ESE and getting west of a low pressure area off Portugal during Monday morning. The low will move east and it will be important to get west as the boat moves south.

Team Ellen (As Amended By ISAF NEws Editor)
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