Sailing: Exhausted MacArthur on track

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The Independent Online

Ellen MacArthur complained of being in a state of exhaustion yesterday after getting just 45 minutes' sleep overnight as she battled against shifting winds in her attempt to set a new record for sailing solo around the world.

She had made 12 changes to the sail configuration on her trimaran B&Q in 12 hours as the wind first decreased and then strengthened again. Going into the 29th day of her record attempt, she was approaching 12,000 miles completed and was still 18 hours ahead of the schedule she needs to maintain if she is to beat the time of 72 days and 22 hours set by Francis Joyon last February.

In the Vendée Globe round-the-world race, Mike Golding admitted to feeling "much more homesick than usual" yesterday, as he ate Christmas cake and washed it down with a glass of port while watching a DVD of the Mel Gibson thriller Payback.

However, the British solo yachtsman also managed to clock up, on his 50th day at sea, one of the best 24-hour runs so far. As well as covering 366 miles in 24 hours, he crossed the international date line back into the western hemisphere, closed to just over 60 miles of the man in second place, Vincent Riou, and was just over 200 miles behind the leader, Jean le Cam.

Golding hopes to reel in the French pair a little more in the next 48 hours and is close to improving on his "worst case" objective of being no more than 200 miles away from the leader when rounding Cape Horn, now less than 3,000 miles or 10 days' sailing away.