From the 1 September this year, Ellen MacArthur will go on standby for her second attempt at the solo transatlantic record aboard B&Q

From the 1 September this year, Ellen MacArthur will go on standby for her second attempt at the solo transatlantic record from New York (USA) to Plymouth (UK) on board the 75ft trimaran B&Q.

This will be MacArthur’s second attempt on this record that has stood for over a decade since her attempt last June ended in disappointment as she missed out on setting a new record by just 75 minutes. The current solo transatlantic record stands at 7 days, 2 hours, 34 minutes, 42 seconds set by Frenchman Laurent Bourgnon in June 1994 on board his 60-foot trimaran, Primagaz.

“We need to have a pretty perfect weather window to have any chance of breaking this very fast record. Last June we were forced south of the route and had to sail more miles than Laurent, in the end too many to break his record. Attempting the transatlantic record is very different to a round the world record and it is hard to compare the two. After failing to break the record by just 75 minutes on the last attempt we are under no illusions as to how big this challenge will be. The timing of departure will be critical, everything will have to go right, the weather, the boat and there will not be room for mistakes. To stand a chance of breaking this record we will have to go flat out and just go for it all the way to the English Channel.”

The west-east solo transatlantic that starts at Ambrose Light off New York and finishes at the Lizard off the south-west coast of England, is perhaps one of the hardest records to break which is why Bourgnon’s record has now stood for over a decade. The passage that is just a shade under 3,000 miles is completely dependent upon hooking into the right weather window. “It is a very, very tough record to break and has stood for a long time. After missing out on this record by so little last time we are determined as ever to give it our best shot this time around.”

French skipper Francis Joyon on board his 90ft trimaran IDEC, who previously held the non-stop solo round the world record that MacArthur beat by a day in February this year, left New York yesterday to make an attempt on Bourgnon’s record but decided to abandon his attempt earlier this morning as he failed to play catch up to hook into the back of a fast-moving weather system. There is another possible weather window shaping up for next week. The weather dictates that this record can only really be attempted in the spring/early summer months (Laurent Bourgnon set his record in June, right at the end of the weather window available) or the post-summer/autumn months to take advantage of the low pressure systems that sweep across the Atlantic at this time of year. In addition, Thomas Coville, skipper of the 60ft trimaran SODEBO has also announced his intention to bid for this record.

Just as was the case with the round the world record when B&Q was first launched, come start day for Ellen the bar may well have been raised yet further by Joyon or Coville for the solo transatlantic record.