Sailing: MacArthur back on track for record

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The Independent Online

As Ellen MacArthur was romping through the equator and back into the northern hemisphere last night, Mike Golding's hopes of partnering her in a remarkable solo round- the-world double were increasingly dependent on the weather coming to his aid.

After a few days of frustration in the light airs between South America and Africa, MacArthur was again piling up hours in hand of the time achieved at the same point by the record holder for sailing solo round-the-world, Francis Joyon. From five days to spare approaching Cape Horn to a deficit which peaked at about 13 hours, MacArthur, in her 75-foot trimaran B&Q, yesterday moved back to about a day and a half ahead.

She still has to avoid the Doldrums, but, with just over 3,000 miles to the finish off Ushant, Brittany, the chances are improving for a triumphal return to Falmouth ahead of the 9 February deadline to beat the time of 72 days, 22 hours and 54 minutes.

Golding, with less than 1,500 miles to the finish of the Vendée Globe round-the-world race, has slipped to 230 miles behind Vincent Riou. However, light air is forecast early next week which would allow him not just to catch second-placed Jean le Cam, 80 miles ahead, but to bid for a successful late dash for the finish line at Les Sables d'Olonne.