Sailing: Defiant MacArthur remains ahead of schedule

Ellen Macarthur, back on track after a worrying and physically bruising 24 hours, was locked in combat again yesterday with the ever-present enemy of ocean racers, uncooperative weather. She was also recovering from the double ascent of the mast to repair damage which could have scuppered her attempt, in the 75ft trimaran B&Q, to set a new record for sailing solo round the world.

Ellen MacArthur, back on track after a worrying and physically bruising 24 hours, was locked in combat again yesterday with the ever-present enemy of ocean racers, uncooperative weather. She was also recovering from the double ascent of the mast to repair damage which could have scuppered her attempt, in the 75ft trimaran B&Q, to set a new record for sailing solo round the world.

"I am feeling like I have been beaten up," she said. "I am stiff as hell and moving around with all the speed and elegance of an arthritic robot." But, on her 54th day at sea and with 18 left to complete the 4,750 miles to the finish line at Ushant, the mast damage had been repaired, the boat was performing normally, and she will again, when conditions allow, be able to hoist a full mainsail to the top of the 30-metre mast.

She now has to tackle her crossing of the Equator and avoid any traps which the Doldrums may have waiting. But the repairs meant both time and distance lost as she covered only 124 miles in the 24 hours. She still had 40 hours in hand ahead of the schedule set by Francis Joyon when setting the current record of 72 days 22 hours 43 minutes last February.

On his 76th consecutive day at sea, but approaching just 2,500 miles to the finish at Les Sables d'Olonne, Mike Golding was trying to close the gap on the leaders in the Vendée Globe round-the-world race. Golding is third in his 60ft Encover, 215 miles behind the leader, Vincent Riou.

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