Ellen MacArthur's dedicated team, have been working non-stop now for 24 hours in freezing conditions in Plymouth Sound, making their brief pitsop to fix the worn sections of mast track. The final fastenings have been secured and at 2330 GMT Kingfisher2 slipping her mooring and headed out into a very rough English Channel.
The giant catamaran has been sitting at anchor in her orange B&Q livery just off of Plymouth Hoe since late last night. Conditions have not assisted the team, but their incredible effort coupled with fantastic local support, has delivered an extraordinary fast turnaround.
The repair involved a small amount of work on the headboard car, and the replacement of two worn sections of the mast track at 2nd and 3rd reef positions, using sections from Maiden2's identical spars.
“We received a call from the Kingfisher 2 team after they developed a technical problem with their mast track," commented Tracy Edwards. "The weather window they are hoping to set sail in will close in 48 hours and we are the only boat with the same mast track, so their only option to start the Jules Verne would be for us to lend them ours. Although Ellen and I are obviously rivals on the water, it would be great for British sailing if she was able to capture the Jules Verne record, and, as a result, we were more than happy to provide whatever assistance we could to set them back on-course."
A tired MacArthur, only on land for an hour since her arrival in Plymouth, was very keen to get back out to sea. "We're all here to do one job, and that is race around the world. The guys have been amazing during this pitstop, the crew and the support team. We've turned around the repair work in record time, despite the cold, wind and the clock ticking away. The local support in Plymouth has been incredible. But I have to say we will of course be very happy to get back to sea and get on with the job we started earlier this week."
The pressure to leave has been principally to catch a weather window, ie favourable following winds. But this is not just northerly winds at the start, in fact more importantly it is the forecast for three days down the track to the west of Spain and Portugal that is most critical. This 'link' between the Bay of Biscay and the Trade Winds is one of the most important in the Jules Verne course in terms of the record time.
With the Jules Verne start line between Ushant and Lizard, 120 miles south southwest of Plymouth, Kingfisher2 is likely to start in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
Conditions are expected to be quite wild in the English Channel with a large seaway and up to 50 knots of wind – while sailing to Plymouth yesterday, the crew already saw 60 knots gusts.
Meanwhile William Hill are offering odds of 7-1 for Kingfisher2 to break the non-stop round the world Jules Verne record. Perhaps that 7 out of 11 Jules Verne record attempts have failed since it began in 1993 have influenced the odds!