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2 November 2005, 04:18 pm
Three Days To Go As MACARTHUR Counts Down To Start
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Transat Jacques Vabre 2005
Le Havre, France

Whilst playing the waiting game for her solo transatlantic record attempt, Ellen MACARTHUR (GBR) was utilizing her time to become re-acquainted with the Open 60 monohull class. She has been spending as much time as possible training with French skipper Roland JOURDAIN onboard Sill et Veolia in preparation for the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre race which sees her return to the class in which she made her name over four years ago.
It is over three years ago that MACARTHUR was last involved in fleet racing onboard Open 60s at the Route du Rhum in November 2002, in which she was first in her class.

'After the Vendée Globe in 2001, I felt like I needed to step away from the Open 60's, after a very intense four years, I was ready for another challenge and I found that in multihulls,' commented MACARTHUR. After a stint racing in the 60 foot ORMA multihull class including the 2001 and 2003 Transat Jacques Vabre races onboard Alain GAUTIER's Foncia, MACARTHUR's team launched the trimaran B&Q in January 2004 and since then MACARTHUR has covered over 55,000 miles on the 75 foot record breaking trimaran culminating in the solo, non-stop round the world record earlier this year.

MACARTHUR will be back in Le Havre, France from today to join co-skipper JOURDAIN and the team of Sill et Veolia in the final build up to the 2005 Transat Jacques Vabre. A total of twelve Open 60 monohulls will be racing in the seventh edition of this two-handed transatlantic classic. MACARTHUR has competed in this race three times before in both the Open 60 monohull class and the ORMA 60 multihull class. The Open 60 Class is highly competitive and Sill et Veolia skipper, JOURDAIN, will be looking for another podium finish on arrival at the finish port of Salvador de Bahia, Brazil and possibly a third victory having won this class twice before in 2001 and 1995.


Why the TJV?

'My challenges onboard B&Q are not over, there are still many roads to travel, and she is now returning to the UK to prepare for the planned tour of Asia in 2006. This race is the perfect opportunity to step back into the world of Open 60 monohull racing and, once again, experience the close boat to boat racing that I have missed since undertaking the solo record attempts on B&Q and I am looking forward to that.'

After two months of training with Roland JOURDAIN on Sill et Veolia, how do feel about the boat and the race?

'I am really excited, it has been three years since racing in this class and to race with Bilou, who has been a both a friend and a rival over the last few years, will be a fantastic experience. We have had a good two months to prepare the boat and have had some quality time out on the water. It is a great boat and one that has already proven its potential - more than anything I am really just enjoying this experience. I feel we are as prepared as we can be - it takes time to re-adjust to another boat but I think that Bilou and I have a good relationship and we will both bring different strengths to the race.'

This race brings some of the strongest teams in the Open 60 class together since the Vendée Globe, who do you will think will be stepping onto the podium at the finish in Brazil and do you see there being any surprises in the race?

'The obvious choices are teams such as Bonduelle, Ecover, Poujoulet and Virbac, but I think it is a very open playing field and I am sure there are many people who have the potential to win. It is possible that the level of attrition over the first few days of the course will shape the formation of the fleet as we head south and have an impact upon the end results in Brazil. But it has been said before, to win first you have to finish, and I think this is particularly true of this race. If there was someone who could upset the balance, so to speak, I think it would be Skandia. She is still a very quick boat and I think the prologue showed that she has the ability to still take on the newer generation of Open 60 boats. The combination of Brian and Will [Brian THOMPSON and co-skipper Will OXLEY (GBR)] is an unknown factor and it may prove to be a winning one, I think she has the potential to throw a few surprises into the mix.'

What are your thoughts for the start?

'The current forecasts are showing a high pressure that will pass over us on start day, this should provide moderate conditions, ten to 15 knots upwind, but with a north westerly swell as we enter the English Channel we could all be in for a choppy start. After that we will see the wind increase to a westerly 25-30 knots upwind on the first night and this should provide a testing first few days for the crews as they past Ushant and start to head south for the Azores.'

For all the news on the Transat Jacques Vabre CLICK HERE.

Offshore Challenges (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Ellen MACARTHUR and Roland JOURDAIN on Sill et Veolia:© Yvan Zedda
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