Although Ellen MacArthur on her singlehanded global record attempt is now 20 hours 34 minutes ahead of the record time, she's now prepariing for a storm on Christmas Day

Although Ellen MacArthur on her singlehanded global record attempt is now 20 hours 34 minutes ahead of Francis Joyon’s time, and she’s maintaining her average boat speed of 20.24kts, Santa Claus is still promising a nasty 50 knot package for Christmas Day. For now the week promises 20-30 knot westerlies and a succession of cold fronts building up to the big one.

In her latest e-mail from the boat this morning MacArthur had this to say:

“It’s about to go dark down here, and the waves are no smaller… In fact, now we’ve gybed they seem bigger and more powerful than before. I am completely in awe of this place.

“The beauty of those immense rolling waves is endless and there is a kind of eternal feeling about their majestic rolling that will live on forever. Us watching them roll along – with nothing to stop them makes B&Q and I feel completely insignificant. They are hardly aware of our tiny presence on their surface.

“The birds are numerous and varied and they seem cheekier today – getting closer and playing with the wind on our forestay. I stand in the cockpit and stare – I think I must be the luckiest person in the world to be here seeing, feeling, smelling and touching all this with my own eyes and senses – I feel alive.

“Though its quite frightening being here and feeling poor B&Q being literally hurled down the waves as she was earlier – winds gusting not to 40 but over 50/55 knots in the squalls. Now the sun is setting there will be no visual idea of where we are on the waves, just that constant knot in my stomach wondering where we will end up at the foot of the wave before us.

“There is some kind of mesmerising feeling, some kind of completeness about being here. I feel this is not so far from the end of the earth, we are isolated, isolated but on the other hand completely free. I am glad we have come down here and seen this storm. It’s a reminder of how small and insignificant we are on this planet – but at the same time what a responsibility we have towards its protection.”

MacArthur will be in a favorable following breeze over the next few days with high pressure to the north (near 40s), and broad deep low pressure way down between 55-60s. This low will send a series of weak fronts her way during the course of the next few days. Winds turn more right into the NW ahead of each front or trough, and then turns left into the W behind the fronts. Winds speeds not too tough, mainly in the 20-30 knot range, but could be higher and lower at times.

Between the high and the low, the best breeze for her should be close to 45s, but may need to go further north if too strong, and more south if the breeze becomes lighter.

A more important storm system could affect her over the weekend, and she will need to keep a steady pace to remain ahead of this system. This still is still five-six days away and it could change.

MacArthur has now covered 9,220 miles of the 26,000 mile course.