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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 June, 2004, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
Q&A: Ellen MacArthur
Ellen MacArthur
MacArthur should arrive back in England on Tuesday
Ellen MacArthur is in the midst of her latest record-breaking feat.

The British yachtswoman set off from New York at the start of the week hoping to beat the west-east solo trans-Atlantic speed record.

She is bound for the Lizard Point off the south-west coast of England and aims to arrive on Tuesday.

The record currently stands at seven days, two hours, 34 minutes, 42 seconds and was set by Laurent Bourgnon in 1994.

Her boat B&Q must cross the finish line by 00:44:42 GMT on Tuesday to set a new world mark.

She took time out from her record-breaking attempt to answer your emails.

Where does this rate in terms of the challenge alongside your previous record attempts/races?
Helen Chambers, Portsmouth

This is definitely up there as one of the most challenging ever. It's very difficult comparing these things a lot of the time as this is a much bigger boat than some of the others I've competed in before.

But obviously the size of the boat makes life really difficult. And the weather has made things tricky too. I had to go 600 miles out of my way just to get the right conditions, which clearly made life tough.

Do you feel mentally stronger now than you were when you did your first solo trip or is it just as daunting every time?
Kate, Pontypridd

I've learnt a lot about myself since then so can't help but feel better prepared. You always have to be mentally prepared and strong going into any of these sorts of things.

But yes, experience always makes you mentally tougher.

Do you ever think "why am I doing this" when times get particularly tough? Les Mines, Hampshire

That does happen - it's all part and parcel of doing it - but thankfully it's not happened on this effort so far.

How much sleep have you got during this voyage? Mark, Isle of Wight

It's been pretty bad this time around to be honest. The most sleep I've got at any one time is 40 minutes and that seemed a lot. As I get closer to the finish, the chances of catching much more sleep get even less. I guess I can always catch up on it when I get home!

Is the west-east crossing more difficult than east-west. If so, why?
Nick Churchill, Glasgow

There's two ways of looking at it. The West-to-East route is much faster because you are going downwind, so the weather conditions are on your side, which makes life easier.

But with that comes fresh problems. Because you are going that much faster, the margin for error is much slimmer, so you have to be absolutely spot on with everything you do.

How do you keep motivation when things go badly wrong? Do you then ever feel like giving up?
Nigel, Staffordshire

A lot of people ask that and I have to say it's really easy to keep going whatever happens. If it was just about me, then yes I might have given up in the past. But it so much more than me and the boat.

There are so many people involved in putting together all my record attempts or races.

This time around, for example, there has been a full year's build-up to the event. So, if I was to lose motivation and give up, I would be letting down so many people.

MacArthur chases record
24 Jun 04  |  Other Sport

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