Ellen MacArthur has made an amazing comeback on her solo transatlantic record attempt and is now just 26 minutes behind the record
Ellen MacArthur has made an amazing comeback on her solo transatlantic record attempt and is now just 26 minutes behind the record. Over the last few days MacArthur has closed the gap from 23 hours behind and now looks set to smash Laurent Bourgnon’s time of 7d 2h 34m 42s.
Chatting from the boat this morning MacArthur said: “I think we still have a chance of breaking the record but it’s going to be very, very close and it all depends on how long this breeze we’ve got with us stays – it’s as simple as that. We will hang on to the breeze as long as we can, keep driving the boat and I think we will have to do one more gybe to come into the finish but it’s going to be very, very tight but there is a chance.
“I did have some problems in the middle of the night with the wind instruments when they went completely haywire which meant the autopilots steering the boat lost control which was a slightly scary moment. It was an electrical problem and there was a small glitch in the calibration – we don’t really know how but we solved it with the help of B&QG which was a huge relief to have the wind instruments back for this final part. It was a bit of a scare so it’s good to be back on track and doing 20 knots again.
“We have had pretty good averages during the night but one thing that hasn’t happened is that we thought the breeze would get up to 30 knots in the night which it hasn’t and we have had breeze of about 20-22 knots all night. So luckily that is enough to keep us sailing over 20 knots. We just have our fingers crossed that this breeze holds out throughout the day and for as long as possible so we can average 20 knots and knock that average down to have a real good chance at breaking the record…. It’s going to be very, very tight there is no doubt about it. At this stage, it’s a very hard record to break.
“Towards the finish it’s going to be quite tactical because at the moment we are heading straight for that point [off the Lizard]. But the wind is going to shift so we are going to have to gybe to come into there which is going to be a much tighter angle. So trying to judge that gybe right so we don’t waste any time and get the angles right is going to be quite difficult because a boat like this you can’t just gybe on an instinct you have to prepare everything and it takes time. So if we have to do more gybes we will definitely lose and we don’t have any time to lose.
“I’m feeling very, very tired. I did manage to get some sleep tonight which is a miracle. Yesterday I was very nervous, felt stressed all day and couldn’t really eat – it’s been full on hard work and I know we’ve got almost 24 hours to go and it’s going to be a hard slog with a lot more effort today. We are approaching the shipping lanes now and there will be a lot more traffic around, more boats, and fishing boats as we arrive on the continental shelf and all that’s going to complicate things even further. So is going to make it all-important to have your finger on the pace.
“I was pretty close to my very first hallucination last night. I slept in the cuddy and then woke up in a start, didn’t really know where I was but checked around the cockpit and then I could see there was a ship in the distance. As I got closer I could see her lights and I was convinced it was another competitor who then told me the ship was a first aid ship sailing with him and I am thinking he can’t do that, you can’t take a ship with you across the Atlantic! It took me a few minutes to realise I was imagining the whole thing!
“I have only boiled the kettle three times since leaving the States so that has told you how many hot meals I’ve had in the past six days!
According to a weather briefing from Commander’s Weather the winds should continue from the south-west through tonight but will start to edge right after 0900UTC, but this will be a slow right turn which could necessitate a gybe around 1200-1500UTC. According to MacArthur she has time for 1 gybe and 1 gybe only. MacArthur added: “When we go, it must be the correct time.”
To break the record MacArthur will have to cross the finish line by 00:44:42 GMT on Tuesday 29 June.