Ellen to go solo again

Offshore challenges announce new Kingfisher sponsored 75' tri

Wednesday April 2nd 2003, Author: Offshore Challenges, Location: United Kingdom
Kingfisher plc announced the next step in their sponsorship of yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur today. Flying the colours of Kingfisher-owned business, B&Q, Ellen will oversee the design and construction of a new 75ft [22.8m] 'solo' trimaran which will be entered into a campaign of singlehanded record attempts in 2004/5.

Ellen's original programme announced in London in January 2002 remains exactly as communicated, including the plan to enter the ORMA 60 trimaran racing circuit during 2005, with the key objective of winning the 2006 Route du Rhum.

Team Kingfisher has no immediate plans for another crewed Jules Verne attempt following their dismasting, but the experience has been an exciting one, and there is certainly an idea to have another go at this fantastic record in a few years time.

The new 75ft trimaran is a design by Nigel Irens who is working in conjunction with the Offshore Challenges' technical team. The giant three-hulled 'flying machine' will be sailed singlehanded by Ellen and will be designed with a single focus - solo records. Without the constraints of class rules or grand prix racing, the boat has been conceived with transoceanic passages in mind and fully optimised, much like the the Open 60 Kingfisher was, for solo sailing. The concept is built around trying to achieve high daily average speeds in a variety of conditions, coupled with safety and reliability, in equal measure.

Ellen said: "First of all I'd like to thank B&Q who is embarking on this amazing project with me. The construction of this trimaran will be a real team effort - and presents us with a huge challenge from designing every detail onboard to seeing her ultimate performance on the water. It's a process I loved with the monohull, and I am looking forward to getting back into it again... This is a really exciting venture for me, and the support team as well as our sponsors, B&Q and Screwfix Direct. Some people may be taken by surprise as I know it was assumed by some we'd go straight in to the ORMA circuit, even though we had said this would not be until 2005. When I set my new plans after the Vendée we left 2004 clear, this new boat was already a big part of my dreams...but I wanted to reserve final judgement until I'd managed to spend more time on the bigger multihulls. I've done that and I'm convinced."

Construction will start at the end of April at the Boatspeed yard in Australia. Building the new trimaran in the southern hemisphere will allow Ellen to use the return voyage to Europe as part of a vigorous training campaign and potentially set a solo record at some point on the return.

A detailed programme for the new boat will be announced later this year, but it is likely to include a number of big transocean records as well as some shorter passages including the solo 24 hour distance record.

Stephen Robertson, Managing Director, Kingfisher Challenges said: "B&Q are delighted to be supporting Ellen as she begins her next major DIY project! With her 'can-do-it' attitude, team spirit and determination, Ellen espouses the values that we see daily in our 67,000 staff worldwide. We're all as excited as she is about our next venture and we're looking forward to being closely involved in the design and construction of this thrilling machine."

Kingfisher plc, title sponsor to Ellen MacArthur, is Europe's leading home improvement retailer and is ranked number three in the world. The Group has more than 600 home improvement stores across the globe.

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