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Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 15:19 GMT
Kingfisher 2: a white-knuckle ride
Kingfisher 2. Photo: Jacques Vapillon
Kingfisher 2 was extensively refitted in Cowes
Speed is the name of the game if Ellen MacArthur is to break the Jules Verne record for sailing non-stop around the world.

To achieve this feat - and scorch round the globe in less than 64 days - the team need a combination of outstanding seamanship, favourable weather, luck and a good boat.

In Kingfisher 2, MacArthur has chosen a round-the-world greyhound with a proven pedigree.

It [sailing Kingfisher 2] is about as exciting as it gets

Ellen MacArthur

The multihull is the latest in a new breed of giant catamarans - over 100ft long - capable of speeds of up to 40 knots.

She was launched in October 2000 but in her brief life she has twice been raced hard around the world.

Kingfisher 2 was formerly Orange, which was sailed to the Jules Verne record of 64 days in May last year by Frenchman Bruno Peyron.

Before that she was Innovation Explorer, which took second place in The Race in 2001, skippered by Loick Peyron, brother of Bruno.

Boat specifications
Length: 32.8m
Beam (width): 16.5m
Draft (depth below water): 0.6 m
Mast Height: 39.5m
Boom length: 14.50m
Displacement (weight): 22 tonnes
Mainsail area: 350msq
Total sail area: 890msq

Since then, the boat has undergone an extensive refit by MacArthur's team in Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

In the search for increased speed, the team have reduced the structure's overall weight by 750 kg.

Spars and fittings made of lighter, stronger materials have been added.

And the two engines have been replaced by generators - to charge the on-board electrical systems - in a further attempt to save weight.

The result is a cutting-edge racing machine, highly-tuned to consistently achieve speeds too fast for the average waterskier.

There is a fine line between squeezing out every last knot and pushing the boat beyond its capabilities.

White-knuckle ride

And emergencies can escalate very quickly.

But MacArthur knows the line is worth treading, and clearly thrives on the ultimate white-knuckle ride.

"The difference between sailing a monohull like Kingfisher and the mega-cat Kingfisher 2 are just huge," said McArthur.

"The sheer size of the boat in length and width alone make it a very different boat to sail.

"Just communicating with the crew is a whole different ball game - we have to use hand-signals - or flashlights - to communicate as you cannot often hear over the noise.

"But one thing for sure is it is about as exciting as it gets."

Ellen MacArthur's Jules Verne Trophy record bid

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08 Dec 02 | Sports Personality 2002
04 Dec 02 | Sailing
28 Nov 02 | Sports Reviews
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