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29 January 2003, 09:56 am
Kingfisher2 Safely in Plymouth
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Ellen Aboard KF2© Jacques Vapillon

Jules Verne Trophy

Ellen MacArthur and her crew have arrived at Plymouth last night and are now at anchor in Plymouth Sound.
It was perhaps the most worrying part of the passage from Ushant - having experienced strong gale force conditions in the English channel under headsail only - KINGFISHER2 sailed inside the breakwater at approx 1930GMT but it was not until 2230GMT that KINGFISHER2 was secure at anchor. The power of the wind on the wing mast was pushing the boat along faster than the tug. "It was a delicate operation," said MacArthur. "KINGFISHER2 has no engines on board so needs support boats to help her manoeuvre in this type of situation which was made more difficult by the high winds."

It was the conclusion to a long day, which began early yesterday morning when Ellen MacArthur and her crew made the decision not to cross the Jules Verne start line off Ushant. Just miles from the start line the crew identified a technical problem with a section of the mast track forcing them to drop the mainsail completely. After a thorough assessment by Ronan and Hendo both inside and outside the mast, the decision was taken to make a pit stop at Plymouth to make the repair that is crucial to keep the boat performing at 100%. KINGFISHER2's support team went into overdrive - crucially securing a replacement piece of mast track that would fit the mast (thankfully, this has been provided by Tracy Edwards from Maiden II) and arranging to relocate the support team to Plymouth from Lorient in time for this evening.

The arrival of KINGFISER2 has generated a fair bit of interest in the West Country and the support and assistance has been unwavering. "We didn't really give anyone that much notice of our arrival," said MacArthur. "But everyone has been fantastic sorting out crucial logistical problems for us - we couldn't have managed without their assistance."

The support team have taken out extra food supplies - not wanting to use the food stocks for the record attempt - and are on board with the crew. The crew and support team continued to work through the night to start sorting the mast track problem. Although tired, cold and wet the team will continue to work away determined to complete the repair as soon as possible. The replacement track section has now arrived in Plymouth from Southampton. How long this repair will take cannot be determined at this time. However, the weather window remains open until the end of the week for KINGFISHER2 to re-start their non-stop round the world Jules Verne record attempt and the team are doing everything they can to ensure they are back on that start line.

" Thanks to Pilot Vessel 'Mallard', Steve Woodfinden and crew of tug 'Plym-Echo', Tim Charlesworth - Cattewater Harbour Master, Mike Gilbert and his team from the Mountbatten Centre, the team at the Royal Western Yacht Club, Conrad Humphreys and everyone else who helped KINGFISHER2 and her team over the past 24 hours.
Kingfisher Media/ISAF News Editor
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