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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 January, 2005, 11:38 GMT
Backing up MacArthur's bid
By Alex Trickett

Ellen MacArthur's B&Q trimaran
Record deadline:
0704 GMT 9 February

Behind every good man is a good woman, or so the old adage goes.

And behind an exceptional woman - Ellen MacArthur - is a dedicated shore team, who make the Briton's bid for the "solo" round-the-world sailing record possible.

Sure, MacArthur is out in the Atlantic Ocean alone, searching for winds to keep her on course to beat Francis Joyon's time as she enters the final hours of her 27,351-mile voyage.

But as she continually acknowledges and as BBC Sport has learned, it has taken massive resources - both in terms of people and equipment - to get this far.

THE BOAT

Needless to say, without B&Q, MacArthur would be nowhere.

The boat is a trimaran (meaning it has three hulls), is 75ft long and weighs 8.3 tonnes.

It took a team of 30 people more than 30,000 hours to build B&Q over a period of seven months.

The boat carries several sails, including a huge mainsail, and a selection of foresails, one of which is bigger than a singles tennis court.

TEAM ELLEN

Ellen MacArthur (left) with Anna Kournikova
While not a shore team regular, even Anna Kournikova has lent a hand
A cosmopolitan crew from seven countries works around the clock to help MacArthur's bid runs as smoothly as possible.

Mark Turner (Britain) - first point of contact
An experienced sailor and boss of Offshore Challenges, Turner mans a dedicated satellite phone to B&Q.

Be it three in the morning or Christmas Day, he will advise Ellen or act as an "emotional punch bag" as she vents her frustrations. He will also decide who MacArthur should consult about specific problems.

Neil "Albert" Graham (Australia) - technical director
Having supervised the build project from beginning to end, Graham is well placed to provide technical solutions. He sits in on a daily 1200 GMT call to the boat and may also involve build manager Olivier Allard (France), who has expert knowledge of the boat's structure, rig and engineering.

Charles Darbyshire (Britain) - technology manager
On hand to talk MacArthur through any communications-type problems and may call on Rudi Stein (Sweden) for additional electronics support.

Lou Newlands (Britain) - media manager
Juggling the time-sensitive requests of the media with the incessant demands of the record bid, Newlands and Lucy Harwood (Britain) have noticed a sharp increase in press calls since Christmas. Kate Steven (Britain) acts as liaison with sponsors B&Q and Castorama.

Loik Gallon (France) - boat captain
The "other" skipper of B&Q, Gallon looks after the boat before and after the challenge. He can also offer helpful sailing advice.

ADDITIONAL ASSISTANCE

It's been a terrible South Atlantic for us, absolutely terrible
Ellen MacArthur

Weather: MacArthur has access to a variety of weather-related websites, but her first point of contact is Ken Campbell (USA) at Commanders' weather. The New Hampshire-based centre forecasts fronts and wind speeds and helps MacArthur plot a safe and fast route.

"Weather routers" are not allowed in many races, but they are permitted in most record attempts.

Health: On-call doctor Kevin McMeel (Canada) is also an experienced yachtsman, having sailed with MacArthur on Kingfisher 2 in the Jules Verne round-the-world race in 2003. He calls in at least once a week and checked up on Ellen when she cut her head on 15 January. Juliet Wilson (Britain) is Ellen's nutritionist and tries to make sure the 28-year-old eats well enough to stay healthy on board.

And MacArthur has also been fitted with a sleep monitor that feeds back data on her heart rate and sleeping patterns to Claudio Stampi (Italy) at the Chronobiology Institute in Boston. This information is mainly for retrospective use with a view to helping sailors better manage their sleep in future.

OTHER EQUIPMENT

Ellen MacArthur on the B&Q Satellite phone
MacArthur on her satellite phone
Safety: B&Q is equipped with six McMurdo emergency distress beacons that automatically send a distress signal to the nearest Marine Maritime Rescue Centre if they become fully submerged.

There are two life rafts and three emergency "grab bags" that contain the basic survival equipment - satellite phone, food rations, water, etc.

If she falls overboard, MacArthur can release via remote control a safety capsule mounted on the back of the boat. This contains a single-person liferaft, a distress beacon, a satellite pager, a survival suit and food and water rations.

Living area: B&Q's central hull is divided into two tiny floors.

A "luxurious" cockpit above the waterline comes complete with heater, chart table, computers, bunk and not enough space to swing a gerbil, let alone a cat.

There is a tiny galley with a sink and a single-burner stove.

And the storage area is down below, although there is also a "cuddy" halfway between the floors, where Ellen can sit and keep a watch while being protected from the elements.


SEE ALSO
MacArthur falls off record pace
24 Jan 05 |  Sailing


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