Ellen McArthur's and Alain Gautier have qualifed for the Transat Jacques Vabre

Ellen McArthur’s and Alain Gautier have completed the compulsory 1,000 mile qualifier aboard the 60ft multihull Foncia to compete in the two-handed 5,190 mile Transat Jacques Vabre race from Le Havre, France to Brazil starting on 2 November.

Team Fonica left Lorient last weekend and returned two days and 20 hours later having completed a triangle course down to Finnistere out into the Atlantic then 450 miles back to Lorient. According to McArthur it was awesome to sail with Alain again, commenting: “We instantly found the same connection we had before when sailing together so it was a real pleasure to do that again. Understandably, we were very pleased we made it through the qualifier without any damage.

“We had some fairly big conditions out there from 20 knots of wind speed averaging over 30 knots for fairly long periods of time so it was a really good test for us. We didn’t have any majors with the boat apart from no electrics as the alternators went swimming, so for three-quarters of the qualifier we were without power but it gave us some good practice single-handing. We had to hand-steer for the majority of time as we had no autopilot so it was pretty exhausting.”

Having come very close to winning the Transat Jacques Vabre last time (finished second with gear failure in the closing stages of the race), McArthur is itching to get started. She also belives that racing in the ORMA fleet is a crucial part of part of the build-up programme to racing her new 75ft B&Q trimaran solo next year as well as keeping in touch with the ORMA competition for the future.