Kingfisher2 sets sail

James Boyd reports dockside from Lorient

Monday January 27th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: France
On an afternoon resembling July not January, Kingfisher2 slipped her mooring lines at 3.30 local time from the Le Defi Areva base under the shadow of the World War 2 German-built submarine silos in Lorient harbour.

At present the 110ft orange-coloured catamaran is heading towards the start line of the Jules Verne Trophy between the island of Ushant off northwestern France and the Lizard. The latest news is that they hope to start their attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy either Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

"Right now it is fantastic," commented Ellen MacArthur. "The fog hasn't rolled in which is great. [A bank of thick fog was hoving away in the distance to the north west]. Right now the wind is from the north west, 15-20 knots, but that's going to increase during the night, so as we round Ushant we're going to have the possibility of 25-30 knots tonight. It's going to be a bit bumpy.

"Once we've gone round Ushant we're going to look at the weather situation and make a decision to see if we're going to start tomorrow morning or Wednesday morning," continued MacArthur. "For the moment we have a situation where the wind is going to come in from the northwest tomorrow morning at 25-27 knots and that wind should stay through most of the day although in the evening it is going to increase quite strongly at Ushant. So we are going to have to make a decision whether we start Tuesday with a reaching wind of 25-30 knots or whether we start on Wednesday with the wind more in the north which is a better angle, but much much stronger blowing 35-45 knots potentially gusting to 50 knots at Ushant. When we get more information we'll make the decision, but that will be tonight or tomorrow morning once we're at sea."

Hordes of French and English press witnessed Kingfisher2's departure as she left the dock under headsail (although there were two RIBs hidden between her hulls - both her engines and prop shafts have been removed).

Warmed by the afternoon sun, the crew seemed relaxed. Ellen in a spur of the moment decision decided to shave her head, bringing comparisions with Irish singer Sinead O'Conner. Jules Verne Trophy record holder Bruno Peyron was also present to see off the boat which he sailed around the world last year in her former guise as Orange.

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