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Wednesday, 5 February, 2003, 16:00 GMT
Ellen finds fast lane
Ellen McArthur's Kingfisher 2
Kingfisher 2 has picked up the pace
Ellen MacArthur's bid to become the holder of the Jules Verne round-the-world speed record has taken a positive turn.

The 26-year-old Briton, skipper of a crew of 13 on board Kingfisher 2, was held up by light winds on Monday.

But she has been skipping along at a rapid pace ever since and is now back on track to chase Bruno Peyron's record of 64 days.

We'll be seeing the eyes of the Brazilians

Ellen MacArthur

"We've been smoking along for 24 hours now," said MacArthur on Wednesday as she approached the tranquil doldrums region close to the equator.

Moving at a rate of 500 miles per day, Kingfisher 2 is now less than two hours adrift of Peyron's benchmark time.

But many obstacles remain for MacArthur, who must plot a quick path into the southern hemisphere, before crossing a system called the South Atlantic High.

"We expect to have to sail more than a 1000 extra miles," she said, admitting that her course would likely take her out towards Brazil before heading down to South Africa's Cape of Good Hope.

"We'll be seeing the eyes of the Brazilians, I'm afraid," MacArthur said.

Whatever the course, Kingfisher 2 can be relied upon to perform admirably.

"The sailing is absolutely fantastic," MacArthur said.

"Last night I helmed for an hour - an electrifying feeling. Such an enormous machine at your hands, just responding to each little movement of the helm.

"We seem very small compared to her. That's why we have to be so careful - in this attempt it's far more about taming the beast than pushing as hard as you can."

Ellen MacArthur's Jules Verne Trophy record bid

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