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B&Q 1/2 Way

KEY DATA DAY 33 0710 GMT: 2 days 10 hours 44 minutes ahead of Joyon
OMEGA: Official timekeeper for Ellen MacArthur

Lat/Long: 53 45 S / 153 45 E (663 miles SSE Tasmania / 670 miles SW New Zealand)
Average Boat speed: 22.61 knots (heading E)
True Wind speed: 21,4 knots (direction NW)
Sea temperature: 7.3 degrees C
Distance sailed so far: 13, 725 miles at an average speed of 17.4 knots
(data communicated by Thrane MiniC via BT Business Broadband)

Update based on data recorded 0710 GMT…check for the latest data updated hourly


* <> REACHES THE HALFWAY STAGE as Ellen continues to build on her advantage now at 2 days and 10 hours. A great New Year’s celebration but can it last? Its a very long way to go…

* HIGH PRESSURE AND ICE ZONE WILL SLOW PROGRESS FOR NEW YEAR… <> skirting the zone of high pressure to avoid the worst of the light winds before heading north east to keep clear of the worst of the reported ice zones (Vendee Globe fleet have seen significant ice fields to east of Campbell Island). How much time will this cost MacArthur will remain to be seen but Joyon’s luck had begun to turn and his progress eastwards improved at this stage…

* THICK FOG AND VERY LOW SEA TEMPERATURES put MacArthur on ice alert making sailing along at 22 knots, a very hazardous and stressful occupation right now!

* MACARTHUR SHORTLISTED FOR GREAT BRITON 2004 AWARD… Ellen has been shortlisted alongside double-Olympic Gold medallist Kelly Holmes and Paralympic medallist Tanni Grey-Thompson in the sporting category of the Great Briton 2004 awards. Twenty candidates have been shortlisted and the overall winner and each category winner [for the seven different categories] will be announced on 27th January.


Ellen MacArthur is pushing <> fast to the east, currently sailing at 22 knots in 21 knots of north-westerly breeze – faster than the wind [see below on how this is possible]. Having covered 13,725 miles at an average speed of 17.4 knots, MacArthur is effectively at the midway point of her solo round the world record attempt with a 2 day and 10 hour advantage over Francis Joyon’s record time.

But her time advantage may start to evaporate as <> is forced the long way round a cell of high pressure to her north. Currently positioned at 53 45 degrees south, Ellen is skirting this zone of high pressure to try and avoid the worst of the light wind area. Fog created by relatively warmer NW wind over a very cold sea (5 degrees C), is making progress slightly hazardous: “I am heading a bit more east now, and due to the shape of the Convergence Zone [see Jargon Buster below], I’m now moving away from it and the temperature is sneaking up slightly. I still can’t see in front of the boat at all. I’ve got the radar on, and its hard not to look in front of the boat every 5 minutes. I really don’t want to see an iceberg, especially at this speed.” During the Vendée Globe four years ago, MacArthur saw numerous icebergs – in fact, ten in one day! MacArthur will then start to push slightly north of east planning to sail north of Campbell Island to keep as clear as possible of the iceberg field situated south-east of New Zealand. Campbell Island is situated approximately 360 miles south of mainland New Zealand and 560 miles to the east of <>, MacArthur is expected to pass Campbell Island later tomorrow. The current record holder, Francis Joyon, sailing his 90-foot multihull IDEC, was for many days pinned much further north due to unfavourable weather systems beneath him, but he managed to round the south-east cape of Tasmania and his prospects improved rapidly and he was heading south again at this same stage. Joyon passed between the Auckland Islands and Campbell Island and the tracks of <> and IDEC will reconverge, once again. Whether MacArthur can keep her near two and a half day advantage, remains to be seen.

The fast and more stable conditions in the past 24 hours have given time to MacArthur to recoup but in typical style, the 75-foot multihull always comes first: “I’ve been pretty busy and got a lot of jobs done. I bailed out water from the back beam amongst other things and done a fuel check – used less than half the original tank, so thats good news.” Keeping on top of the job list goes a long way in helping MacArthur rest herself and she has managed to get some much needed sleep in the last two days.

Thick fog and sea temperatures dropping to as low as 5 degrees puts Ellen on ice alert: “There are birds around me, that’s always a sign of an iceberg… There is thick fog, I can’t see more than a few boat lengths ahead of me, and the water is only 5 degrees C. This is pretty scary!” Ellen is still some 30 miles north of the Convergence Zone (main ice area), and is just north of the tracks of two Vendee Globe race boats (Virbac and Temenos) that passed here last week without spotting ice. But the pulse rate is up!

The high pressure is expected to get pushed north away from <>, by a cold front to the south and as this happens the wind will back into the west then south-west allowing Ellen to sail north-east to pass Campbell Island. The cold front will then deliver strong SSW and SW winds allowing Ellen to sail fast along a corridor between 50-53 degrees south, trying to keep clear of the ice, as she aims towards Cape Horn [approx 3000 miles to the east].


High pressure is located from NE of Tasmania to S and SE of South Island, NZ. Ellen is currently sailing around the SW and S side of this high pressure area in favorable NW winds. It is quite foggy since the NW wind is a warmer wind over very chilly water.

Cold front S and SW of Ellen will move NE over the next 24 hours. This cold front will serve several purposes,

1) the high pressure area will be pushed N and NW, away from Ellen
2) winds will back into the W and then SW, which will allow Ellen to sail NE and between Auckland and Campbell Islands
3) sailing NE later today and tonight will allow Ellen to sail north of the icebergs east of Campbell Island
4) the cold front will bring favorably strong SSW and SW winds, which will allow Ellen to sail very fast, aiming at Cape Horn, but staying north and away from the icebergs

Winds will be lighter over the next 24 hours, but by being further S, she will miss the area of lightest winds further north. Once the cold front passes, around 1200UTC Saturday, the SW will steadily increase over the following 24 hours.

1) Would really prefer not going to 54S, but no weather reasons, only a concern about ice
2) Will take the left shift late Fri/early Sat between Auckland and Campbell Islands
3) Will gybe at 51S or earlier if the wind is 230 or left of 230 – this wind direction will allow a heading north of due E
a) Will need to discuss the merits of going further N tomorrow!

Wind forecasts
Wind directions are TRUE, wind speed in kts, time is UTC

Fri, Dec 31 Winds diminish some
12: 320-350/17-23
18: 340-310/16-22 – winds begin to back
Areas of dense fog will tend to lift as winds become more W. Chance of a few showers overnight. Seas 12-18 feet

Sat, Jan 1
00: 300-270/15-21, still on port and going between the Islands
06: 280-250/14-20
12: 250-210/16-22 nr 51 50s/168e – lighter wind N and W – stronger S and E
18: 210-230/17-23
Scattered showers thru 1200UTC then cloudy to occasionally partly cloudy, maybe a brief squally shower or 2. Seas 6-12 feet mostly W-WSW swell.

Sun, Jan 2 – need to keep an eye out for potential ice east of 170.
00: 200-230/18-24, N of Campbell Island – wind lighter to the W
06: 200-230/20-26
12: 210-240/20-30, gust near 34-36 – near 51s/179e – stronger wind to the
E and S, lighter to the W
18: 210-240/26-34, gust near 36-40
Mix of clouds and sunshine with a scattering of brief, squally showers, especially after 0600UTC – winds could gust to 40 kts at times after 1200UTC. SW swell increasing

With modern high performance sailing boats, they power to weight ratio is such that they are able to sail faster than the wind in many conditions – essentially they create so much apparent wind of their own (see below), that they can easily attain speeds in excess of the true wind speed. Man has learnt a lot about how to harness the wind since the days of the Clipper Ships – which were not actually that slow though of course! Boats are becoming lighter and faster with each reiteration of design and material advances.

If you imagine running in the same direction and at the same speed as the wind, you would not feel any wind on you at all. The ‘Apparent’ Wind would be zero. If you are on a boat at that time, there would be no pressure on the sails and you would slow down. If at that time you headed left 30 degrees, you would start to feel apparent wind on you, and you would go faster. That is sailing a ‘hotter angle’, it’s a choice between going where you want to go slowly, or heading up in to the wind and going faster!

The water temperatures of the Southern Ocean are far from uniform. Around 60 degrees South, where the Southern ocean meets the warmer southward flowing waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, is the zone known as the Antarctic Convergence, or Polar Front. The total area of sea within the convergence makes up one tenth of all the world’s oceans, and contains the coolest and densest water to be found anywhere. The effect of this is to create the area of most icebergs that break off the ice shelf. For more information, go to

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