Monday, December 06, 2004

Ellen MacArthur cruising toward a record finish

Ellen MacArthur on deck

I didn't realize the round the world race was on until I hit on an article on line this AM. Ellen MacAurthur is really flying - her web site is tracking her progress real time and you is really a fascinating experiment in live coverage of a multi-day race. She is about to cross the equator and could pick up the crossing record on her way to winning the whole thing outright.

Here's a slice from her recent update:

Describe what it's like on deck?
It's very hard because you desperately have to keep the boat moving no matter what, because moving it's the way to the new breeze you are looking for, the better breeze and it's extremely hot even at night. And the sky is full of huge great big black clouds and there is no moon at the moment which is even worse as it's very hard to see what's coming. You're constantly battered by squalls and rain in the clouds. One minute you've got 5 knots of wind which obviously you need completely different amount of sails for 20 knots of breeze heading in the same direction. So, I must have changed sails about 6 or 7 times during the night and goodness knows how many times during the days yesterday. It's a constant fight to have the right amount of sails to keep the boat moving without breaking anything which is very easy when you're suddenly getting such large amounts of breeze

How are you holding up physically?
My body is okay but I'm losing a lot of fluids. I'm trying to drink a huge amount because it's just so warm on board, particularly when I'm charging the batteries, the cabin turns into even more of an oven - more like a sauna! I've got lots of salt sores all over my hands and my arms, which appear when you get sweaty for a long period of time. There's no escape from it, there's nowhere to go. All the water around you is salty, you're salty, so you're sweat is salty! It's pretty difficult but you've just got to look forward and know that it's going to be getting colder soon, and when it gets colder it's a negative thing and a positive too. I'm looking forward to getting to the south, I really am.

When do you expect to cross the Equator?
At the moment we've got a pretty good course and we're heading almost south so, the equator is roughly 180 miles away so I reckon we should be crossing, all being well, in about 12 hours. So that will be about midnight tonight, English time. I'm looking forward to getting across... It's well south of the Doldrums area so we should keep the breeze until we get there and after that the breeze should slowly free off so we can bear away from the wind and go faster down the coast of Brazil before plunging down round the high pressure of the St. Helena High and into the Southern Ocean...

Rock on Ellen!

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