Ellen MacArthur and her Kingfisher2 team have covered 535 nautical miles in the last 24 hours

Ellen MacArthur and her Kingfisher2 team have made up a lot of ground over the last 24 hours – 535 nautical miles – and are now just four hours and 55 minutes behind Orange’s Jules Verne record at this stage in the challenge. Geronimo however, who is also currently challenging for the Jules Verne, is 10 hours 15 minutes ahead on the track.

News from the boat at 0700 this morning shows that they are at a position of 30 9′ N 24 37′ W (369 nm north-west of Canaries) doing an average boat speed of 10.5 knots, despite dropping the gennaker for a minor repair, in a maximum of 20.5 knots wind speed.

They have now 1,829nm (shortest distance) before they reach the Equator but the weather is forecast to drop significantly due to a depression off the African coast which may force them to harden up and reach south in an effort to maintain speed.

Crew illness has been causing a bit of a problem since the start and it seems that Hervé has come down with same cold/chest infection as some of the other crew, However, BiBi (Benoit) and Bruno are much better. Ellen commented. “We are just hoping no one else gets it now – so everyone is wanting to eat the few remaining satsumas we have on board (last of the fresh food, for sure). I’m much better – still not 100 per cent and it is an effort to do anything on deck. Managed to sleep for three hours last night – hope to be back on form in a few days.

“Apart from the on-board bug, things have been going well today – albeit the danger of a low pressure sucking way some of our wind tomorrow. We have seen our first flying fish today – though I can’t say that I’m party to that – as I’ve been down below for all but half an hour of today. It’s now 0217, it’s a beautiful night outside on deck as we cream south in the early signs of the trade winds. Things are definitely warmer, though there is a nasty perpetual draft coming out of Kingfisher’s back beam, so it’s not so easy to doze in the nav station without a sleeping bag! Funnily enough – Andrew [Preece] in the media station is draftless, but on the other gybe things will change.

“We’re smoking today with a good breeze from the NE, and Kingfisher2 seems to be rocketing along. We’ve already passed the island of Madeira – which seems unbelievable after less than three days at sea. This sure is the way to travel! My main concern is whether the wind will die soon. We have positioned ourselves in the west so that if the wind goes lighter tomorrow we will still be able to sail higher and faster. I hope that the lighter wind does not materialise – but we’re ready for it if it does – and we should not be slowed too badly because of it. It’s always hard to make a decision how we are going to position ourselves.

“Humour is excellent – and people are already beginning to appreciate the more simple things in life like the final few satsumas we have left over from our trip to the start line. Everyone is smiling – even BiBi who seems to be recovering from his chest cold. The only bad news is that Hervé seems to be going down with the same cold – but at least the weather is getting better. That’s a big plus. Anyway – it’s been a long night so far – and it’s time I got some sleep… so I guess – till tomorrow!”