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Last Updated: Friday, 3 June, 2005, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
MacArthur in Channel crossing bid
Dame Ellen MacArthur
Dame Ellen hopes her latest record bid will encourage other sailors
Yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur has started her latest challenge, to race the 100-mile cross-Channel route from Plymouth to Roscoff in France.

It is hoped the 28-year-old will set a time others can challenge - the fastest in the next year will win the new Brittany Ferries 100-mile Trophy.

She is sailing B&Q, the trimaran in which she made the fastest solo trip round the world earlier this year.

It is estimated the cross-Channel sail will take between five and seven hours.

Leading French yachtsman Roland Jourdain is sailing with Dame Ellen on Friday.

It's like doing a marathon at the Olympics and then going for the 100 metres
Dame Ellen

The Isle of Wight-based yachtswoman completed the 27,000-mile circumnavigation of the globe in 71 days and just under 15 hours in February.

That beat Frenchman Francis Joyon's record of 72 days, 22 hours, 54 mins and 22 secs.

Driving rain

Dame Ellen told BBC News the B&Q trimaran was built and designed to "try and break records".

"Just because we have been round the world doesn't mean we can't race on shorter race tracks," she said.

"It's like doing a marathon at the Olympics and then going for the 100 metres. It's just something that's very different."

Despite leaving Plymouth under grey skies and in driving rain, Dame Ellen said the weather forecast was "not terrible" and added that she hoped to reach speeds of 20 knots in B&Q.

"The wind is due to turn more in the direction which is favourable to us, the question is what time that is going to happen.

"We're going to go out there and set as good a time as we can."

Dame Ellen is to challenge the west to east transatlantic record in September.

Last June she missed the seven-day, two-hour and 34-minute record by just 75 minutes.

Report: BBC News's John Kaye


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