Sailing: Macarthur sees old boat prepare for crossing

A wistful Ellen MacArthur found herself sidelined yesterday, surrounded by the boats she loves to sail and talking to the community of which she has been a part for nearly 10 years about how she would like to join them.

A wistful Ellen MacArthur found herself sidelined yesterday, surrounded by the boats she loves to sail and talking to the community of which she has been a part for nearly 10 years about how she would like to join them.

Britain's best-known solo sailor was in Plymouth ahead of the start on Monday of The Transat, the singlehanded transatlantic race to Boston, and on the dock in the Mountbatten Centre was her old boat, Kingfisher, now in the colours of Skandia and skippered by the Australian who has been at her side in many previous races, Nick Moloney.

His is one of 15 Open 60 monohulls, one of the biggest gatherings in Europe this summer, though two of the newest, Jean le Cam's Bonduelle and Roland Jourdain's Sill have had to pull out because of keel problems on the sisterships designed by Marc Lombard. And alongside are a dozen of the world's fastest 60-foot multihulls.

But MacArthur, whose new 75-foot trimaran B&Q is in New York waiting for an attack on the west-east transatlantic record, was there in the role of co-director of Ocean Challenges, which, with Mark Turner at the helm, has bought the race, run every year since 1960, from the Royal Western Yacht Club.

In Medemblik, The Netherlands, four conseuctive wins catapulted Ben Ainslie to the top of the Finn class fleet in the Spa Olympic regatta. Second is Belgium's Sebastien Godefroid as Poland's Mateusz Kusnierewicz, with a 15th and 20th yesterday, slipped to third with two races scheduled for today and the final race tomorrow. Natasha Sturges is third in Mistral windsurfer, while both Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks in the 49er and Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell in the Star are fourth.

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