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14 October 2005, 03:48 pm
Race Against Time For MACARTHUR
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WSSRC Record Attempt
New York, USA

After six weeks on standby for an attempt on the solo transatlantic record to beat Francis JOYON's (FRA) time of 6 days, 4 hours and 1 minute, the window of opportunity is quickly drawing to a close for nominee for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award Ellen MACARTHUR (GBR).
The 75 foot trimaran B&Q arrived in New York, USA on 23 August and officially went on standby from 1 September, and has been waiting patiently but to no avail. Now only one week remains before MACARTHUR and her team are stood down and, for now, the weather forecast over the next seven days is not encouraging. The deadline of 20 October looms as MACARTHUR must be in the port of Le Havre, France by 28 October, a week before the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre race which she is doing with French skipper, Roland JOURDAIN on the Open 60 monohull Sill et Veolia - this is a mandatory commitment for all skippers to participate in the event's prologue race.

MACARTHUR and the team are working with their weather analysts in an attempt to find a suitable weather system for her to begin her attempt, but present forecasts for the next seven days are not looking positive, keeping B&Q firmly tied to her berth at North Cove Marina in New York. However, MACARTHUR was in the same situation in June last year after a two month standby period for this same record looked set to prove fruitless - then what was planned as a delivery trip back to the Great Britain suddenly became a record attempt! Although on that occasion, MACARTHUR missed out on the record by 75 minutes, it shows that the weather has the ability to change dramatically in a very short period of time.

In order for MACARTHUR to beat this record, she needs a perfect weather system, she must hook into a depression and ride it all the way across the Atlantic to the English Channel. B&Q has been on standby during the notorious hurricane season, these hurricanes have had a destabilizing affect upon the weather that has meant that this perfect weather system has not existed throughout her standby period. The level and frequency of these hurricanes and tropical storms have been unpredictably intense and their effects have been devastating across the southern states of the USA and South America.

'We new that being on standby at this time of year would be complicated by the hurricane season, and the North Atlantic weather patterns have been severely affected by these powerful hurricanes. With only one week left we are hoping that a window may appear, if a suitable weather system does not appear I know that the whole team will be disappointed at not having had the opportunity to go again this time,' commented MACARTHUR.

The last opportunity for B&Q to leave New York will up next Thursday 20 October. This would signal the end for her attempt on this record for this year. A further attempt on the record in 2006 will be discussed by MACARTHUR, her team and her sponsors, B&Q in the coming months.

With no weather window in sight and the team on standby code red, MACARTHUR has been utilizing this time in France preparing for the Transat Jacques Vabre Race with JOURDAIN. With only 22 days remaining until the start of the 4,340 mile double-handed race on 5 November from the French port of Le Havre, MACARTHUR and JOURDAIN have been training both onshore and offshore as much as possible including the technical and communication systems on board, weather routing and tactics. 'It is great to be back out on an Open 60 again,' commented MACARTHUR, 'It has been a long time since I have sailed in this class and there are many differences to the layout and handling of a boat like Sill compared to B&Q. I think the Transat Jacques Vabre will be a great race, there are so many boats and crews that are capable of winning, it will mean this race is wide open.'

Offshore Challenges. Image:© Benoit Stichelbaut/DPPI/Offshore Challenges
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