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14 January 2005, 10:32 am
South Atlantic Progress Slowed
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Ellen MacArthur

At 10:00 GMT this morning Ellen was approximately 265 miles NNE of the Falkland Islands, that she passed to the west yesterday, and 385 miles from the Argentinian coast heading in a north-easterly direction with lighter conditions slowing her progress.
Wind speeds yesterday evening stabilised in the 17-20 knot range from a westerly direction but since midnight the breeze has been gradually diminishing - to as little as a 9 knot average at 0400hrs this morning.

Latest boat data shows an average wind speed of 11.5 knots from the west pushing B&Q along at 10.73 knots. Although B&Q is 15-foot smaller than Francis JOYON's IDEC and has less sail area, she is substantially lighter - weighing in at just 8.3 tonnes compared to IDEC's 16 tonnes - and in the lighter conditions can go slightly faster. Ellen is well aware of the South Atlantic weather obstacles: 'The Atlantic is the area where you have the most unstable winds, the area where you have the lightest winds,' she warned two days ago. The fast, downwind conditions of the Southern Ocean are fast becoming a distant memory as sailing up the coast of Argentina and Brazil sees the wind turn into headwinds. The 2500 mile stretch between where B&Q is now and meeting the band of south-east Trade Winds off the NE coast of Brazil will be a testing time that can easily trip up Ellen's march on the 72 day record.

After the trials and tribulations of the Southern Ocean, Ellen is in need of rest and recuperation. Her resolve is over-whelming but her shore team are very aware of the tight-rope she is walking between tiredness and complete exhaustion. Hopefully, today's conditions - although not 100% stable - will allow her to 'cat-nap' regularly and restore some of her energy. The increase in climatic temperature [sea temperature now at 11.5 degrees compared to 7.3 degrees three days ago] means using less energy to keep warm.

Joyon was pushed east by the weather conditions further away from the Argentinian coastline - this morning Ellen is 225 miles to the west of his historical position - and it took him 13 days from Cape Horn to crossing the Equator on 23rd January 2004. This morning B&Q is 1561 miles ahead of Joyon, equating to 4 days, 18 hours and 4 minutes of time [calculated using the average speed of Joyon's time around the world], and she will be fighting every inch of the way to hold on to as much of her lead as she can.

Commanders' Weather advise Ellen to get North as quickly as possible to avoid the lighter breeze that is sliding east today. Satellite images do not show any major squall activity but some clouds will hamper the stability of the westery 8-14 knot breeze. The wind will clock further right into the N-NNW later today and increase in speed between 16-22 knots, ahead of the approaching low pressure system from the west. The low will move south-east along the frontal zone tomorrow and wind speeds will come up to 25-35 knots and some squalls holding 40-50 knots - these conditions will force Ellen further east.

Team Ellen (As Amended by ISAF), Image: © Jacques Vapillon/DPPI
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