Ellen MacArthur and team aboard B&Q establish new record of first leg of Asia tour 31/3/06

Following an interesting week of strong winds which forced them to take shelter and replace a damaged rudder, Ellen MacArthur and her three-man crew have established a new record aboard the 72ft trimaran B&Q.

Team B&Q set sail on the first leg of their Asian Record Circuit last Saturday and at just after 1800 GMT last night passed the finish gate off Jeju Island, South Korea to complete their 900-mile first leg, establishing a new record time of 5 days, 11 hours, 10 minutes and 51 seconds.

The tough first leg wasn’t helped by the problems with the rudder see previous news story here and the tough upwind slog to the finish gate.

McArthur commented: “It has been a testing but interesting leg. When we had to take shelter in the lee of Yaku Shima island to hide from the strong north-westerly gale we saw the breeze continuously over 40 knots and gusting 48 knots? Once in the lee of the island all we could do was bide our time and sail up and down until we finally stuck our bows out and left the shelter of this island in the early hours of yesterday morning to navigate our way through a string of further islands off the southern Japan until we were in open water? We have all been in our survival suits as protection against the freezing water that douses the cockpit every time we jump off a wave. Sleeping and eating have not been easy but with company nothing seems so bad.”

McArthur and team have no time to waste because they have a target of 2 days, 5 hours for the next leg. They intend to set off immediately from Jeju Island to Dalian, northern China. And a slightly better weather pattern predicting the wind shifting to the east and then round south, should allow some good downwind sailing. B&Q should arrive in Dalian on Saturday.

B&Q’s schedule

20-24 March
Stopover: Yokohama

25-31 March
Leg 1: Yokohama, Japan to Jeju Island, South Korea
Leg 2: Jeju Island to Dalian, China

1-4 April
Stopover: Dalian

5-6 April
Leg 3: Dalian to Qingdao

7-8 April
Stopover 3: Qingdao

9-10 April
Leg 4: Qingdao to Shanghai

11-15 April
Stopover: Shanghai

16-18 April
Leg 5: Shanghai to Taipei

19-20 April
Stopover: Taipei

21-23 April
Leg 6: Taipei to Hong Kong

24-30 April
Stopover: Hong Kong

1-7 May
Leg 7: Hong Kong to Sanya (Hainan Island)
Leg 8: Sanya to Nha Trang, Vietnam
Leg 9: Nha Trang to Terengganu, Malaysia

8- 11 May
Stopover: Terengganu

11-12 May
Leg 10: Terengganu to Singapore

13-17 May
Stopover: Singapore