Ellen MacArthur and her crew completed Leg 3 of the Asian Record Circuit earlier today 5/3/06

Ellen MacArthur and her crew of four crossed the finish line off the coast of Qingdao, China to complete Leg 3 of the Asian Record Circuit at 09:04:46 GMT today setting record number 4 in a time of 1 day, 2 minutes and 53 seconds.

The shortest record of the entire 4,505-mile circuit, the 265-mile leg was one of the most physically challenging so far, the light starting conditions built up to strong northerly winds through much of the night but then fizzled again in the approach to the finish line which meant continual sail changes for the crew.

MacArthur speaking from Qingdao this morning said: “It’s been pretty tough going as the 39 knots of wind we had during the night decreased to a grand total of 5 this morning, making slow going onboard as we headed towards the finish.

“It has been a very cold record run, and hard work over the past 24 hours. We started off with full main and genoa, then gennaker, then one reef, then solent, then two reefs, then staysail, then three reefs, then this morning the sail changes continued to two reefs, solent, one reef and genoa, then two reefs solent, then one reef genoa, then full main genoa now full main and gennaker! So you can say that with the sixteen sail changes in total on this leg, we are happy but tired!

“The weather this morning was just glorious, and we were lucky to have had bright sunshine, and really amazing conditions. It has been a real pleasure to be out sailing this morning, and we have been smiling in the cockpit, despite getting absolutely drenched by the odd breaking wave. There has been a lot of action in the way of ships and fishing boats, though we are starting to get used to that bit-by-bit.

“The worst thing has been the sea, as at a depth of just 20 to 30 metres and with almost 40 knots of wind, this leads to some pretty short sharp waves – a little like conditions in the North Sea. That’s hard going for the steering on a boat like B&Q, and not particularly comfortable. Time wise, once the wind picked up, the sea state improved, and speed wise I think we have hit 30knots a few times!

“But with the light beginning and the light end we lost many hours of time through the time we gained in the good winds! The best sailing was reaching with two reefs and solent earlier today – B&Q just took off, and the sailing was absolutely incredible. She goes like a train in those conditions, and though very wet she is a sheer pleasure to sail!”

This latest record has been named ‘The Marco Polo Record’ deriving its name from the Venetian trader and explorer, Marco Polo, who organised several trips in mainland China in the latter part of the 13th century. During one of these trips he went from Dalian to Qingdao by land. Marco Polo contributed very actively to the development and knowledge of Asian culture in the west.

Remaining schedule

6-8 April
Stopover 3: Qingdao

9-10 April
Leg 4: Qingdao to Shanghai

11-15 April
Stopover: Shanghai

16-18 April
Leg 5: Shanghai to Taipei

19-20 April
Stopover: Taipei

21-23 April
Leg 6: Taipei to Hong Kong

24-30 April
Stopover: Hong Kong

1-7 May
Leg 7: Hong Kong to Sanya (Hainan Island)
Leg 8: Sanya to Nha Trang, Vietnam
Leg 9: Nha Trang to Terengganu, Malaysia

8- 11 May
Stopover: Terengganu

11-12 May
Leg 10: Terengganu to Singapore

13-17 May
Stopover: Singapore