Kingfisher PLC have confirmed their sponsorship of Ellen MacArthur until June 2002.
Having turned down a majority of the numerous offers to exploit her new found fame, Ellen's year will be one spent predominantly at sea - but not just on the one hull of the 'Kingfisher' that she has sailed the last 40,000 miles. As well as competing in at least 4 races onboard 'Kingfisher' in the IMOCA circuit, she will take on a new and exciting challenge by competing in the Formula 1 ORMA Multihull circuit - giant 60 foot trimarans, that are as wide as they are long, and represent some of the fastest and most exciting racing machines on the planet.
She has been asked by Alain Gautier, former Vendee Globe winner (1992/3), who was also part of the Kingfisher Design Team, to compete with him onboard 'Foncia' his state-of-the-art 60 foot trimaran. The season kicks off on May 13 with a gruelling 8 or 9 day non-stop race from Cherbourg to a port on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Then its on to a series of 5 Grand Prix events - four day intense fully crewed races in sight of land and spectators - and will culminate in the big event of the year the Transat Jacques Vabre. This race is 2 -up, 4500 miles of high stress racing from Le Havre in northern France across the Atlantic and south to Brazil at incredible speeds.
"I was surprised and flattered when Alain asked me to join his team for the season onboard 'Foncia'. I certainly have a lot to learn, but that is going to be a great new challenge for me. Racing these fast and powerful multihulls is another new experience - sailing is a fascinating sport in this respect, so many things to learn. I cannot think of a better way enter this circuit than with Alain, who played a key role in the success of the Vendée Globe campaign." said Ellen.
During the year, Ellen will also compete onboard 'Kingfisher' the monohull in 2 Grand Prix events (inshore, intense 4 to 5 days of racing), as well as provisionally the mammoth EDS Atlantic Challenge event and some record attempts in European waters. Nick Moloney, highly experienced Volvo (Whitbread), America's Cup, and multihull sailor (Playstation for The Race), will co-skipper 'Kingfisher' throughout the year.