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Friday, 7 February, 2003, 13:52 GMT
MacArthur crosses equator
Ellen MacArthur is skipper of a crew of 13 on Kingfisher 2
Kingfisher 2 has made up some time
Ellen MacArthur has crossed the equator on course to break the existing Jules Verne round-the-world record.

The 26-year-old Briton reached the southern hemisphere seven days 18 hours and 33 minutes after setting sail from Ushant, France.

But MacArthur - and her crew of 13 on board Kingfisher 2 - are well off the pace being set by concurrent record bid Geronimo.

The temperature saps energy but in days rather than weeks it will be tumbling again

Ellen MacArthur

French skipper Olivier de Kersauson, whose rival boat is two weeks ahead following the same course, has just set a new world best of 26 days from Ushant to Australia.

Aware of the challenge still ahead, MacArthur did not stand on ceremony as she crossed the equator on Friday morning.

Instead, her crew busied themselves trying to make the best of the light winds that will persist until Kingfisher 2 breaks free of the doldrums.

Then MacArthur must plot a southerly course to the Cape of Good Hope, before picking up the strong breezes normally associated with the Southern Ocean.

She is attempting to break the Jules Verne record of 64 days held by Bruno Peyron, but may have to go faster if De Kersauson maintains his speed.

Ellen MacArthur's Jules Verne Trophy record bid

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