Team B&Q takes shelter from gale and replaces rudder 28/3/06

Ellen MacArthur and team aboard B&Q have spent the last 12 hours struggling to free a fishing net that got caught on the 75ft trimaran’s starboard rudder.

A decision was made yesterday, during the second day of the team’s Asian Record Circuit see news story here , to change the rudder but slow progress meant that they were hit by strong north-westerly winds reaching 48kts. With no immediate change in the conditions the crew made a decision to take shelter and at 0900 this morning were heading towards the lee of Yaku Shima island.

Although the fight with the fishing net slowed their progress significantly, according to McArthur the rudder change was fairly straightforward. “We drifted downwind once we had our sails down, just gently, and without to much trouble, went about changing the rudder. It involved quite a lot of sitting on the float and pushing the old rudder out through the float – but we did it without too much trouble.”

The most recent news from the boat indicates that they are currently sailing downwind under trinquette with no mainsail and those in the cockpit – Charlie and Loik – are in survival suits. And although they were hit by a particularly big wave where everything, including the crew, got thrown across the boat, team morale is high. McArthur continued: “Despite the rough weather, I managed to make a tea, and we’ve broken into a box of chocolates that were gift just before we left, nice. Anyway – we’re not there yet, and the island we are trying to hide behind is just slipping into vision. It’s incredible to think that these pieces of land that reach out of the sea belong to Japan, looking from a distance it could be the Cornish coast! I have seen many things through the windows of mobi… many incredible things, and many countries and oceans… she really is an amazing boat… capable of taking us anywhere.”

The forecast for the wind to abate is beginning to take effect with the latest wind readings showing 27.7kts.