Sailing: MacArthur on track after battering in gale

After a traumatic three days, Ellen MacArthur's race around the world calmed down somewhat yesterday morning.

After a traumatic three days, Ellen MacArthur's race around the world calmed down somewhat yesterday morning.

Despite enduring atrocious conditions in the southern ocean, she edged four and a half days ahead of Francis Joyon's round-the-world record. The lighter winds also allowed MacArthur to try to sleep after only 20 minutes in 24 hours.

"I've been pretty scared in this one. I was very worried but it's not over yet," she said. "I am numb to the tiredness, as my veins are filled with adrenalin and fear, my brain so active it cannot switch off at all.

The force 10 winds peaked at 47 knots then fell to only about 25 to 30 knots, though the forecast is for the breeze to strengthen again today and tomorrow.

MacArthur added: "The godsend is that we stayed further north yesterday. If we were further south now we would be in big trouble. I think we are just about getting away with it. The boat has been awesome. I don't know how she's coping."

MacArthur's 75ft trimaran, B&Q, has about 9,000 miles left and must finish on 9 February to break the record of 72 days, 22 hours, 54 minutes and 22 seconds set by Joyon last February.

In the Vendée Globe round the world race, her fellow Briton Mike Golding was still third, 92 miles behind the front-runner Jean Le Cam, as the leaders rounded tricky weather in the south Atlantic about 850 miles south-east of Montevideo and 2,980 miles from the equator.

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