Thomas Coville abandons transatlantic record attempt while Ellen MacArthur remains in standby mode

After two months of waiting on standby for an attempt on the solo transatlantic record, French skipper Thomas Coville today announced that he will have to leave New York aboard his 60ft trimaran Sodebo abandoning any chance of clinching a record this season.

Coville must return to Europe to prepare his trimaran for the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre race leaving from the French port of Le Havre in early November. “We knew that this standby period would be difficult due to the hurricane season, but this year has seen some extremely unsettled weather, which has taken the Americans by surprise as we saw with hurricane Katrina,” said Coville.

For MacArthur and her shore team, the standby mode remains permanently on Red as the weather systems sweeping across the Atlantic continue to be unsettled due to the very active hurricane season. Latest update from US weather routers Commanders’ identifies strong winds generating from the east coast of the States this week but not in the right direction: “Although there are significant amounts of wind in the second half of this week their direction is not really suitable for an attempt. Longer term the weather pattern looks to be getting quite active with several vigorous frontal systems moving off the East Coast. The next frontal system that could offer a potential weather window may arrive early next week so we will track how it evolves through this week.”

MacArthur has been on standby since the beginning of September and realistically this standby period will have to come to an end around the 20 October for MacArthur to get back in time to compete in the same Transat Jacques Vabre race as Coville, but on board the Open 60 monohull Sill et Veolia with Roland Jourdain.

With an almost guaranteed period of standby Red over the next week, Ellen will head to France to spend a week training with Sill et Veolia skipper Roland Jourdain (aka Bilou) in preparation for the Transat Jacques Vabre. They will work on boat preparations and sail testing off Concarneau on the north-west coast of France which is home to Sill et Veolia. “We completed our 1,000-mile qualifier for the Transat Jacques Vabre race in early May but that is the only time we have sailed together this year. Sill is a new boat built for the latest edition of the Vendée Globe and I have much to learn about her and the boat set-up. My last race on an Open 60 was onboard Kingfisher in the 2002 Route du Rhum so I am really looking forward to racing on these kind of boats again, especially with Bilou who is a great competitor and a great friend.”

The Transat Jacques Vabre will take the 35-boat fleet through both the stormy conditions of the Bay of Biscay, down to the tropical conditions of the Equator before reaching the finish destination of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil after covering 4,500 miles.