The events of the last 48 hours will go down in Ellen MacArthur's diary as some of the worst in her sailing career

The events of the last 48 hours will go down in Ellen MacArthur’s diary as some of the worst in her sailing career. Not only has she had to abort her attempt on the Jules Verne Challenge when she was over a day ahead of Orange’s record breaking time, and not too far behind Geronimo, but the day before the dismasting she managed to cut her little finger so badly on the mainsheet traveller line during a gybe, she needed stitches.

A chat with Mark Turner from the Kingfisher office this afternoon however, confirmed that despite events of the last two days things are now under control. “Everyone is okay but fed up as you can imagine. When we tried to talk to Ellen about three hours ago she was physically unable to speak because she was so tired. Because of the accident with the traveller, she hadn’t been to bed for about a day and a half before the dismasting so it’s hardly surprising.”

The immediate concern after the mast came down was the puncture to the port-hand hull. But according to Turner it was fairly minor and well above sea level. “They plugged the hole pretty quickly within the first 20 minutes. Within half an hour of the dismasting, everything was cut free, made safe and secure, and at first light there was a jury rig up.” Interestingly, there seems to be no indications on how the mast broke. And because they had to cut most of it free, they now have little evidence. Further investigations will take place when the boat arrives at port.

In the meantime the crew is concentrating on making as much headway as possible on course for Perth. Although it’s too hard to predict the time it will take, early indications show it’s going to be at least two weeks if the current 3-4 knots of boatspeed in 20-25kts of breeze is anything to go by.