Sailing: MacArthur cautious as record success nears

The tension of being so near to success was Ellen MacArthur's problem in the Atlantic yesterday. With nearly three and half days in hand and tracking north at nearly twice the speed she needs, MacArthur was entering the final 1,500 miles as she attempts to become the fastest solo round-the-world sailor.

The tension of being so near to success was Ellen MacArthur's problem in the Atlantic yesterday. With nearly three and half days in hand and tracking north at nearly twice the speed she needs, MacArthur was entering the final 1,500 miles as she attempts to become the fastest solo round-the-world sailor.

An imaginary line just off Ushant is her target as her 75ft trimaran, B&Q, continued a fierce attack on the current record of 72 days 22hr 54min set a year ago by Francis Joyon. Caution was still the watchword, MacArthur's own prediction being a finish on Monday, which would be followed by a triumphal return to Falmouth. She has until next Wednesday, but few would be surprised to see the job done by Sunday.

Britain's other solo sailor in the Atlantic, Mike Golding, had 24 hours and 400 miles to Les Sables d'Olonne to see whether he could make a last-gasp move for glory in the Vendée Globe single-handed round-the-world race after 87 days at sea. But the shifting winds in the Bay of Biscay may conspire to deny him a career-crowning win.

Far from being able to make steady inroads into the advantage held by the two men ahead of him, Golding had yesterday slipped to 90 miles behind the leader, Vincent Riou, with the second-placed Jean le Cam 34 miles behind his fellow Frenchman.

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