Sailing: MacArthur ahead of schedule

A nervous Ellen MacArthur, having passed Madeira, had an evening rendezvous with the Canaries yesterday as she continued to stay just ahead of schedule in her 75-foot trimaran B&Q going into the fourth day of her attempt to set a new record for sailing solo round the world.

A nervous Ellen MacArthur, having passed Madeira, had an evening rendezvous with the Canaries yesterday as she continued to stay just ahead of schedule in her 75-foot trimaran B&Q going into the fourth day of her attempt to set a new record for sailing solo round the world.

Previously strong and stable winds had given way to more fickle breezes, but she had completed 1,375 miles as she chased the time of 72 days 22hr 54min 22 sec set by the Frenchman Francis Joyon in February.

A quartet of Frenchmen lead the Vendée Globe singlehanded round the world race after yesterday's 24th day of racing. A tactical move north by Vincent Riou handed an 80-mile advantage to Jean le Cam, though le Cam reports he is negotiating bumpy seas and big winds.

The chasing pair, Roland Jourdain and Sébastien Josse closed to 280 and 325 miles while Britain's Mike Golding continued to narrow his deficit in fifth to 440 miles. His British rival Alex Thomson was a further 420 miles behind in sixth while their compatriot Conrad Humphreys and the Australian Nick Moloney were just 10 miles apart in ninth and 10th.

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