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An Amazing Year of Highs and Lows

As 2005 draws to a close, the Offshore Challenges Sailing Team can look back on a year of extreme highs and occasional lows, of great results and also bitter disappointments – such is the world of sport and adventure that we love! We look back on the year, and also to the future, for our professional sailors.


It goes without saying that Ellen’s highlight of the year was setting a new solo non-stop round the world record onboard the trimaran <>. On the 7th February at 22:29:17 GMT <> crossed the finish line in a time of 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds. It was a triumphant moment for the entire team and it is hard to imagine that it was just ten months ago! Another crack at the transatlantic record from New York to Plymouth was not to be this year, as the extremely active hurricane season upset the weather patterns in the North Atlantic. Before going to Le Havre for the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre race, Ellen was in Barcelona in October assisting with the launch of a new global race – a non-stop, two-handed round the world race in Open 60s called the Barcelona World Race. OC Events, a separate division of the OC Group, co-owned by Ellen and CEO Mark Turner, will be running the new event set to be staged over the winter of 2007-2008 for the IMOCA 60 Class, almost exactly one year before the next solo Vendée Globe. In November the Transat Jacques Vabre race saw Ellen’s return to short-handed IMOCA 60 racing for the first time since her victory in the 2002 Route du Rhum, competing with French skipper Roland Jourdain on Sill et Veolia. They had one monumental battle with Virbac-Paprec skippered by Jean-Pierre Dick and race legend Loick Peyron and it was Dick and Peyron that finished ahead but by the slimmest of margins, just 6 miles after 4,340 miles of racing!

Ellen will be leaving for South Georgia in the middle of December to pursue a cause close to her heart. The numbers of birdlife of the Southern Ocean and in particular the albatross are being massively depleted due to long-line fishing and this winter Ellen will be accompanying biologist, Sally Poncet, for two months on her annual birdlife survey on South Georgia. It will be the first time since Ellen began her professional sailing career in 1997 that she has taken time out to pursue a personal project.
For more information on this story, click here
For me information on the Save the Albatross campaign, click here

Since the 75ft trimaran B&Q returned to the UK in early November, she has been undergoing a complete checkover and mini-refit in Cowes before being shipped out to Japan this winter for Ellen’s next very unique challenge. Sailing will begin at the end of March when Ellen and a crew will aim to establish a new record circuit between a number of major Asian cities. Running from Japan and onto five Chinese ports including Hong Kong China, Taiwan ending in Singapore around mid-May. This is perhaps one of the most ambitious projects the team have undertaken. It is a huge logistical challenge of organisation and red tape before B&Q even arrives in China and then she will be venturing out into unchartered territory for the first time as she attempts to establish a number of new crewed records – in such a way that other projects can go and challenge them in future years, filling a gap in the market (for sponsors in particular) for Asian based professional sailing challenges. For more information on this tour, click here:

Perhaps the most frequently asked question to Ellen now is “what are your plans beyond 2006?” As yet, Ellen has not decided and will be spending some of her time in South Georgia contemplating her future in the sport of top level professional sailing. The current sponsorship contract with her title sponsors B&Q and Castorama, expires towards the end of 2006 and they are also currently reviewing the sponsorship programme. It is ten years ago that Ellen embarked on her first big sailing challenge, and she hasn’t stopped since. The next challenge that she could take on is likely to be a very tough one mentally, requiring a full-on 3 year programme – a decision therefore not to take lightly after ten years of non-stop action. What can be certain is Ellen isn’t about to stop loving the ocean, so watch this space!

A special DVD documenting Ellen’s highs and lows of her record attempt has now been followed up by a pictorial book from Michael Joseph/Penguin also called ‘Race Against Time’ that includes 287 pages of stunning photographs and Ellen’s email logs. You can now buy both products for a special price of £30.00. For more information, click here

It is now possible to vote online for your favourite sports personality. These votes go towards deciding the shortlist of candidates for the various awards. If you would like to nominate Ellen MacArthur for Sports Personality of the Year, go to and cast your vote. But remember, if Ellen makes it through to the shortlist, you will have to vote again on the night at the Awards ceremony on Sunday, 11th December by phone or text.


Nick has officially signed another 4-year contract with the Offshore Challenges Sailing Team that will run through to the summer of 2009. He initially joined the team to pursue his dream of competing in the solo Vendée Globe and his focus is, once again, based around another Open 60 campaign whilst at the same sharing his vast sailing skills with other crewed campaigns and events: “The past few years with Offshore Challenges have been a rollercoaster of highs and lows, and when it came down to it, I really didn’t want that to stop. We have made a new four-year agreement that will help me realise my future ambitions and give me the flexibility to work with other projects. It was great to be back in touch with the Volvo Ocean Race through my association with Paul Cayard’s Pirates of the Caribbean team but I am also really excited by the announcement of the Barcelona World Race which is a really motivating race for me to do. I think the IMOCA circuit is where the action is and I hope to be part of it in the future,” commented Nick.

Nick has always been a ‘man with a mission’ as he is a particularly driven individual. In 1996 he set himself three specific sailing goals and the final one was to compete in the non-stop, solo Vendée Globe race. On Sunday, 7th November Nick crossed the start line onboard the Open 60 Skandia – destiny unknown. He battled many demons both in his mind and from nature – raging Southern Ocean storms and the torment of the Doldrums but, finally, on 14th January after 68 days at sea, Skandia rounded Cape Horn heralding the final run home to the finish line off Les Sables d’Olonne only to suffer keel failure off Rio de Janeiro 10 days later. Disbelief turned to dismay as Moloney awaited a tow line into Rio, his Vendée dream in shatters.

Now Nick is back on sea to complete his goal of circumnavigating the globe solo. Skandia had just finished the Transat Jacques Vabre in fifth place with Brian Thomson and Will Oxley and on Friday [25.11.05] the shore team saw Nick board Skandia on his own with the aim of returning to the finish line off Les Sables d’Olonne unassisted. To follow Nick’s return passage, go to

After this Nick will be returning to Australia to compete in the Sydney-Hobart race onboard Alex Thompson’s Open 60 Hugo Boss – Nick’s fee is allegedly to be a new Hugo Boss suit! Nick will be dividing his time between his family and knocking on a few corporate doors in search of funding for his future campaigns, and will certainly be in Melbourne for the Volvo Ocean Race stopover.


As Sam’s third Figaro season comes to a close so too does her successful three year partnership with Skandia and the Offshore Challenges Sailing Team. After much discussion it has been decided that Sam’s contracts with both Skandia and the Offshore Challenges Sailing Team will not be renewed. Sam’s focus remains with the Figaro circuit and she plans to compete in a fourth season of competition. Both Sam and the Offshore Challenges team are proud of their achievements over the last three years that saw Sam finish 10th overall in the Championnat de France in 2004 and taking outright victory in her final event of this season, the Vendée Defi.

As the sailors’ careers evolve, changes in the team are inevitable and although we are sad to see Sam leave the Offshore Challenges Sailing Team, it is in recognition that our joint objectives have been met.

“We are sure that Sam could ultimately become the first foreigner to win the French dominated Solitaire du Figaro race, and wish her every success for her very focused objective in the future. We have no regrets about having worked with her on this first three years of learning in this very tough circuit,” commented Mark Turner.

The Offshore Challenges Sailing Team will be expanding again in the near future with both young rookies and more experienced mature athletes. The long-term plan remains the same which is to manage between three to five sailors in the Offshore Challenges Sailing Team representing a range of extreme sailing disciplines and, in particular, have two or three Open 60 campaigns in the 2007-2009 cycle of IMOCA events.

2006…bring it on!

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 29th, 2005 at 12:58 pm and is filed under Main Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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