Ellen's crew announced
Kingfisher 2's international team is drawn from six nations and boasts 20 circumnavigations between them. Speaking about her new team on the stand of press conference hosts Bénéteau yacht builders, Ellen said: "We have assembled a fantastic group of people with a very wide knowledge base. It's going to be very exciting and a learning experience for myself to sail with these guys, and I think a lot of fun as well!"
The confirmed team are:
Ellen MacArthur - United Kingdom
Neal MacDonald - United Kingdom
Nick Moloney -Australia
Benoit Briand -France
Bruno Dubois - Canada
Anthony Merringto - Australia
Andrew Henderson - Australia
Damian Foxall - Ireland
Andrew Preece - United Kingdom
Ronan Le Goff - France
Hervé Jan - France
Jason Carrington -United Kingdom
Nigel King - United Kingdom
Guillermo Aitadill - Spain
Kingfisher 2 was due to be based at the Galician port of Sanxenxo, North West Spain, for crew training and the workup, but due to the recent sinking of the oil tanker Prestige, this plan had to be cancelled. "It is with great regret that we can no longer go to what was an ideal training base in Sanxenxo," commented Project Director Mark Turner. "The town had offered fantastic support, the location further south and open to the Atlantic Ocean was ideal [it was the base for illbruck’s winning Volvo Ocean Race campaign], and the King of Spain was even hoping to join us for an outing! I am certain we will return there in the future, and our thoughts are with the local population whose livelihoods have been devastated by this terrible disaster."
An excellent replacement has been found though. The French maritime town of Lorient on the Biscay coast will be the team base for the work-up period, utilising the facilities of Le Defi French America’s Cup base. Ellen is excited to be returning to Brittany..."Brittany is where these five years of adventure really began for me with the Mini-Transat base in La Trinite. With Alain Gautier and the Foncia team I have also discovered Lorient, and with the great support of the town and base, we're really looking forward to four to six weeks of training from there."
The project will move to a port closer to the Jules Verne start line [set between the lighhouses at Lizard Point in south-west England and Ushant on the north west tip of France] in mid to late January 2003 [when ready] and await the green light from the weather routers.
"Without doubt the Jules Verne record is hard to beat – the combination of constantly having to find the right weather systems to keep moving at maximum
speed but avoiding the big stuff that could damage the boat is a hard call. These catamarans are speed machines, the loads are enormous and breakages can happen easily."
Kingfisher 2 is currently in Cherbourg, France, having her new 39-metre carbon fibre mast - built by JMV Industries - fitted. The crew hope to set off on the shakedown sail to Lorient towards the end of next week.
The boat already has a record-breaking history. As Orange, she set the current Jules Verne record of 64 days, eight hours and 37 minutes in May 2002. This is the record Team Kingfisher hope to beat...
Frenchman Bruno Peyron, the first skipper to break the 80-day barrier back in 1993, set the current record with an average speed of 18.15 knots over the distance he sailed. His crew included four of the team that will sail on Kingfisher2.
This beat Frenchman Olivier de Kersauson's 1997 record by 7 days, 5 hours, 44 minutes and 44 seconds. Breton de Kersausan is also expected to mount a new Jules Verne challenge this winter on his 38-metre trimaran Geronimo.
Ellen's new challenge is now to race against the clock and shave as many days, hours, minutes and seconds as possible off the new record set by the same boat less than a year ago. But statistically even to finish the tough Jules Verne course is difficult – even more so at the pace now required to beat the record.
"It's great to have another project back-to-back with the Route du Rhum to move the story on," continued Ellen. "It has been personally very difficult to leave Kingfisher the monohull, very hard mentally to move away from that era and it would of been harder if there was nothing there - if I had got off Kingfisher at the end of the Route du Rhum and that was the end. This is a great new focus to have. I can't wait to get out there, and I can’t think of a better bunch of guys to do it with."