Sailing: MacArthur charms Neptune to stay on course

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The Independent Online

Sunday lunch next weekend on dry land in England, was looking an increasingly achievable target for Ellen MacArthur yesterday as she shook free of the Doldrums that had threatened to put the brakes on her bid to break the record for sailing solo round the world.

Sunday lunch next weekend on dry land in England, was looking an increasingly achievable target for Ellen MacArthur yesterday as she shook free of the Doldrums that had threatened to put the brakes on her bid to break the record for sailing solo round the world.

There is one remaining weather hurdle for her 75-foot trimaran B&Q, but there was the equally tantalising prospect of knocking up to four days off the current record of 72 days 22 hours set by the Frenchman Francis Joyon a year ago. MacArthur, who placated Neptune with a silver charm from her necklace, said: "I felt incredibly happy for a number of hours ... [crossing the equator] was a huge relief."

For Mike Golding, the hope of a finish-line lottery and a last-gasp win in the Vendée Globe round-the-world race was fading. "It's not looking very good," he said yesterday with just 1,200 miles to go. "The forecast looks good for getting to Les Sables d'Olonne quickly [probably next Tuesday], but not so good for getting past [the leader] Vincent Riou." Golding has a 186-mile deficit to make up and is 74 miles behind second-placed Jean le Cam.

Bruno Peyron was heading south for the Cape Verde archipelago on the fifth day of his attempt to break the circumnavigation record of 58 days 9hr 32min 45sec set by Steve Fossett last April. Peyron, in his 120-foot catamaran Orange II, is 500 miles ahead of where Fossett was at a similar stage.

Maiden Ocean Racing Qatar, the company set up by Tracy Edwards to promote the maxi-multihull round-the-world race which starts from Doha next Saturday, was wound up in the High Court in London yesterday. Its remaining creditor, Sports Impact, was given leave to be told the source of Edwards' defence funding.

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