Back on track, but exhausted as MacArthur awaits more big winds

Ellen MacArthur has fallen off the back of the grim storm she went through yesterday but more is on the way. However, a period of decreasing winds has, if anything, been more exhausting as it has been accompanied by numerous back-breaking sail changes, all essential in the effort to claw back some of the precious hours the ‘survival mode’ cost her.

“I’m exhausted really. Had a bit of sleep in the cuddy in my oilskins, probably about 45 minutes last night,” she reported today. “I had to force breakfast down but just had the kettle on for next freeze dried meal… I’ve done 12 sail changes in 12 hours, from 3 reefs and storm jib to full main and genoa.”

Ellen is catching up the cold front again and with that comes increasing winds, so she has been down up all those gears again. “Now back all the way down to 2 reefs and staysail. More to do yet, as we are now right on the back of the first front and crossing again into the 40 knot plus northerlies…”

Spending her third Christmas alone at sea, Ellen has had to postpone the festivities until a more relaxing period of weather. Conditions have been so extreme she has described them as being “like a surfer riding a wave for the past 36 hours.”

Her hard work is being rewarded, though, as Ellen has managed to track back to a more southerly – and thus shorter – route than the current record holder, Francis Joyon. This has compounded the theoretical gains so that this morning she was a satisfying 13 hours and 47 minutes ahead of the record, with the prospect of better conditions and more gains later this week.