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  Friday, 9 March, 2001, 13:32 GMT
Ellen moves into F1 sailing
Ellen Macarthur celebrates on the Kingfisher
Ellen Macarthur will pit her sailing wits in France
BBC Sport's sailing commentator Richard Simmonds reports on Ellen MacArthur's intention to conquer the world of sailing.

Ellen MacArthur could have pressed pause, put her sailing plans on hold, and spent a hectic and lucrative year or so on land.

But on Friday in Paris, she announced her intentions to move her already successful sailing career further forward.

MacArthur will be a key player amongst a six-man crew on board giant formula one trimaran "Foncia " on the highest profile grand prix sailing circuit in France.

She will also continue to race her Open 60 monohull Kingfisher - the boat she raced to second place in the Vendee Globe.

For the French Mutihull tour she will team up with Frenchman Alan Gautier, a former Vendee Globe winner and member of the team that designed Kingfisher.

She will race with a crew in two inshore events and provisionally in the EDS Atlantic Challenge which will see a fleet of Open 60's racing from France to the USA and back.

Intensive racing

The race starts in France in July.

She announced Australian round-the-world sailor Nick Maloney would be co-skipper of Kingfisher with her this year.

The Formula one multihull circuit in France will see a fleet of 60 foot long and 60 foot wide machines battling it out on a race tour that includes short races just offshore and long marathons including a Trans-Atlantic race in the Autumn.

Ellen will compete in the Trans-Atlantic race with Gautier on board in the one race which stands out in an intensive programme.

The last time this race was held in 1999, two of the Formula one mutihulls somersaulted over.

Alan Gautier was skipper of one of those boats - but he escaped unhurt.

But tragically, Paul Vattine lost his life on the other boat.

A sprint across the Atlantic in Formula one mutihull is extreme sailing.

The move to mutihulls by MacArthur has long been predicted in France - the progression from extreme monohull to extreme multihull has been the way to go for so many of the top French sailors.

Ellen Macarthur celebrates her victory in the Vendee Globe race
More champagne moments for Macarthur?
Vendee Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux has already confirmed that he will be on the tour.

MacArthur will be in familiar ground breaking territory.

She is entering a sailing event the French care about passionately - but is not widely followed around the World.

But she is used to that, as prior to MacArthur's achievements, the Vendee Globe was a major sporting event in France but only reported elsewhere when disaster struck.

And whilst MacArthur was the catalyst that stimulated interest in that race, there is every chance she holds the key to unlock the secrets of the Formula One multihull tour to a general sporting audience.

And if the diminutive MacArthur could start fighting for podium places then the impact would be huge.

Because like in Formula One motor racing, this in a realm where only men have ruled.

But this is a new game for MacArthur, she will need to be a team player on board.

She is surrounded by those who have years of experience and are proven winners on the circuit.

In theory, this year will be about steep learning curves and making mistakes.

In practice few of the tour old timers will be feeling complacent.

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 ON THIS STORY
Ellen MacArthur
"I'll be sailing on Kingfisher for a further year"
Ellen MacArthur in the Vendee Globe race

Home-coming heroine

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See also:

15 Feb 01 | Vendee Globe
21 Feb 01 | Vendee Globe
21 Feb 01 | Vendee Globe
21 Feb 01 | Vendee Globe
12 Feb 01 | Vendee Globe
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