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Friday, 23 August, 2002, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Ellen MacArthur's column
Ellen MacArthur


The America's Cup is often seen as the Formula One of sailing.

With its rallies, touring cars and go-kart races, motorsport has many different forms, with F1 at the top level.

Sailing is similar and the America's Cup is at the top of the tree - certainly in terms of in-shore racing.


The America's Cup is about tactics as much as speed - it's about getting one over on the opponent

Like F1 grands prix, it is all about racing on particular, limited-distance circuits.

But it is hugely different to what I do.

To begin with, the America's Cup is match racing, which means there are teams of people on the boat for races that only last a matter of hours rather than weeks and months.

It's generally done within sight of land, so the guys go out racing and then come back to shore in the afternoon, whereas I tend to be away for long periods of time.

And the boats, which are built for speed on specific courses, are very quick upwind.

The racing I do is on boats that are generally a lot faster, because they are designed for use offshore, and very, very light.

But America's Cup racing is about tactics as much as speed.

It's about getting one over on the opponent and about getting over the start line first.

It is also very orientated towards rules, design and crew.


From a tactical point of view, I'm nowhere near the sailors on an America's Cup boat

You also have to accept the financial side of things.

Costs are much greater in this type of yachting - but if you want to go and beat the other challengers, that is the money you have to spend.

Right now I can't imagine competing in the America's Cup.

My focus is on offshore races - like the Jules Verne and the Route du Rhum - but who knows in the future?

I don't know where I'm going to be in five years, let alone 10.

From a tactical point of view, I'm nowhere near the sailors on an America's Cup boat.

They are also more specialised than me - they train specifically to do certain jobs, like trimming and grinding.

When you are on a boat alone, or even with five other people, everyone needs to be able to do a bit of everything.

Ellen MacArthur will be keeping us up to date with her preparations for the Route du Rhum and the Jules Verne record attempt and will continue to give us her thoughts on Britain's America's Cup bid.

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