She is still over three days ahead of Joyon but struggling in unfavourable weather conditions

Ellen MacArthur is approximately halfway between Cape Horn and the Equator since rounding Cape Horn six days ago having sailed 21,328 miles so far and leaving just over 5,000 miles to go.  The complicated weather systems of the South Atlantic continue to plague B&Q: “Really variable winds – 9 knots to 18 knots – averaging around 14 knots. It’s hard because I need to keep going fast to catch the low that is moving slowly north.  The sea conditions are terrible – got a headsea coming from the north and we are just leaping off waves and falling 3-4 meters [seconds later a big crash heard in the background as B&Q falls off a wave]… No one knows how far we are from the front – maybe we can get through by 2000GMT tonight, just don’t know…”  MacArthur is dealing with the second major weather hurdle presented to her inside the last 36 hours, after crossing the ridge of high pressure last night, which is to get through a weak low ahead of her. But first she has to catch up the low and that is the dilemma.  Needing all the sail area she can to keep moving as fast as possible but requiring extra vigilence once across the front, as the breeze will turn to upwind and can increase strongly – risk of capsize is high unless MacArthur can reduce sail quickly and in advance of the strong winds – a difficult balancing act. Latest data shows the wind in a south-westerly direction that might suggest MacArthur is getting closer to the weak low as she head on an ENE course at just 8.94 knots.  The uncertainty lies in whether she can cross this front tonight or not. “This a very old front which has very changeable winds in it, and I’m trying to punch to the north of that at the moment but it’s pretty tough going and the sea conditions are terrible. The waves are right on the nose and we’re getting thrown around quite violently so it’s not much fun at the moment. It will be nice to punch through to the other side of this and actually start making some decent progress to the north albeit slow.”

On the other side of the front, lies the final third weather obstacle predicted for this 72 hour period – strong north-westerly headwinds, although Commanders’ Weather are hoping these will not be as strong as the 30 knots forecast yesterday.  MacArthur is trying to remain pragmatic as she digs deep to keep pushing B&Q north: ” I’m just trying to take every hour and everyday as it comes. If you think about the big picture, it’s sometimes a bad thing to do. Right now, I’m just trying to look at each day and deal with every day… There is no doubt we’re slowing, there is no doubt we’re losing a lot of time at the moment because we’re not going very quickly, but at the same time I’ve just got to get through this and out the other side and there is no point in thinking about anything else right now.”