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24 March 2006, 03:55 pm
Less Than 24 Hours Remaining Before The Start Of Asian Record Circuit 2006
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Ellen MACARTHUR

Under twenty four hours remain for Ellen MACARTHUR (GBR) and her crew until the start of the Asian Record Circuit 2006. This is all about discovering new territory in professional sailing terms, and establishing a new record circuit for the future. The ten leg circuit will see Ellen and the B&Q shore team visit six counties throughout their stopovers in Asia; Japan, South Korea, Mainland China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.
The circuit will start this Saturday 25 March 2006 in Yokohama, Japan; situated mid-way between Tokyo Bay and the open ocean, Yokohama is located on a peninsula lying roughly 20 miles (32km) west from Japan's capital city, Tokyo. With a population over 3.28 million (half the size of London) Yokohama qualifies as Japan's second largest city. The port of Yokohama opened in 1859 and ever since has played a major role as a 'window to the world' becoming Japan's largest international trading port. The shore team has been based in Yokohama Bayside Marina, a busy marina that is linked to a large shopping mall on the waterfront. Due to the public holidays in Japan this week, there have been many local visitors to the marina, inquisitive to meet the team and see the 'big orange boat.'

The collision damage (a floating tree…) during the delivery trip meant that the shore team faced a race against the clock to repair B&Q if the tour was to kick off on schedule. The dagger board and the sacrificial crash box on the bow took the full brunt of the collision, as it is designed to do but whilst the main structure of the boat was therefore spared, the repair has been a big one and has taken the total focus of the team. After several days of round the clock work, the damage is now fixed and B&Q will be ready to start tomorrow.

"We took a pretty heavy hit to the dagger-board and bow," commented shore manager Oli ALLARD, "We have been working flat out in order to get B&Q to the dock ready for the start on Saturday. It has been a big team effort to get everything fixed, the departure of the dagger board to a nearby repair shed was, in itself, a bit of an event with about twenty Japanese guys in blue overalls arriving on a flat bed motor boat to pick it up and head off randomly across the bay!"

Day to Day Challenges

The day to day challenges, enhanced by the language barrier, have been an interesting obstacle for the team, but after six days they have quickly settled into their temporary Japanese base. The differences in language and culture will be just one of the tests ahead for the team. On the water B&Q will be facing a very different set of challenges compared to those faced during the round the world record last winter. The record circuit will cover some of the world's busiest shipping zones, with large fishing fleets not used to seeing a fast moving three hulled missile! Use of the radar is going to be rather full time, and this time other boats not icebergs are going to be the main focus.

"It's amazing to think that we are just 24 hours away from the start of this record circuit. This is my first visit to Japan and we've been made to feel very welcome. Everyone has been incredibly friendly and has helped us especially with the repairs to the boat, we couldn't have picked a better place to start. At present the weather looks reasonable for the first leg, after the bashing the delivery crew took (up to 60 knots) on the way here, I think we are happy to depart in lighter winds. I'm looking forward to sailing with the team and I'm keen to get this tour on the road!"

The preliminary leg of the Asian Record Circuit 2006 will see B&Q sail from Yokohama to the start line (five nm long), which bears west from Jogashima Light House approx (35º 08.10'N; 139º 36.64'E) in Tokyo Bay. For this record leg, the crew will cover 906nm to Jeju Island, South Korea (33º 32.06N 126º 32.45E). To get there they will first sail down the south western shores of Japan before heading north west to Jeju. After completing this first leg, B&Q will continue north west to Dalian in northern mainland China, a further 418 nautical miles.

After viewing the latest weather forecasts the benchmark target times have been confirmed. There are three potential records to establish on these legs;

No. Record Distance nm (km) Target
1

Yokohama-Jeju Island (S.Korea) (Gate:33 32 N 126 32 E)

906 (1678)

4d 18h

2

Jeju Island- Dalian

418 (774)

2d 5h

3

Yokohama-Dalian

1324 (2452)

6d 23h

OMEGA is the Official Timekeeper to Ellen MacArthur and the Asian Record Circuit 2006

Weather in Japan

Due to it's positioning globally (20 degrees latitude north and 23 degrees of longitude east) Japan's climate varies widely from one region to region. During the winter, it snows mainly on the Sea of Japan side and whilst remaining dry on the Pacific Ocean side, with the rainy season kicking in for around forty days during June and July, often recording exceptionally high rainfall. It is autumn that brings increasingly unstable conditions as Japan's Typhoon season reaches its peak in September, with typhoons affecting the south east coast of Japan.

Weather forecast from Ellen:

"The weather looks to throw up a real mixture for us on this record attempt to Dalian. We are looking at a light to moderate downwind start - followed by a confused area of bubbles of high pressure over and around our track. An offshore option could look the best for the coastal part over the first days. The first real weather we look like getting will be at the south western tip of Japan where we will see strong N to NW winds maybe reaching and sustaining over 30 knots. This will be lumpy, extremely cold and difficult sailing for B&Q. The pattern after this appears to be High pressure bubbles rolling across our track which will give a variety of different wind directions, which are not too strong, though will make the sea state quite uncomfortable."

Schedule

20-24 March
Stopover: Yokohama

25-31 March
Leg 1: Yokohama, Japan to Jeju Island, South Korea
Leg 2: Jeju Island to Dalian, China

1-4 April
Stopover: Dalian

5-6 April
Leg 3: Dalian to Qingdao

7-8 April
Stopover 3: Qingdao

9-10 April
Leg 4: Qingdao to Shanghai

11-15 April
Stopover: Shanghai

16-18 April
Leg 5: Shanghai to Taipei

19-20 April
Stopover: Taipei

21-23 April
Leg 6: Taipei to Hong Kong

24-30 April
Stopover: Hong Kong

1-7 May
Leg 7: Hong Kong to Sanya (Hainan Island)
Leg 8: Sanya to Nha Trang, Vietnam
Leg 9: Nha Trang to Terengganu, Malaysia

8- 11 May
Stopover: Terengganu

11-12 May
Leg 10: Terengganu to Singapore

13-17 May
Stopover: Singapore

The trimaran will return to the UK onboard a CMA-CGM container ship departing Singapore on 23 May. (The above itinerary may be subject to change due to weather conditions in the locality, and logistical requirements).

Offshore Challenges (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Asia awaits Ellen MACARTHUR:© Vincent CRUTCHET/DPPI
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