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Last Updated: Monday, 7 February, 2005, 23:15 GMT
Backing up MacArthur's bid
By Alex Trickett

Ellen MacArthur's B&Q trimaran

Behind every good man is a good woman, or so the old adage goes.

And behind an exceptional woman - Ellen MacArthur - is a dedicated shore team that made the Briton's bid for the "solo" round-the-world sailing record possible.

Sure, MacArthur was out in the Atlantic Ocean alone, searching for winds to keep her on course to beat Francis Joyon's time.

But as she continually acknowledged it has taken massive resources - both in terms of people and equipment - to acheive this remarkable feat.


Needless to say, without B&Q, MacArthur would be nowhere.

The boat is a trimaran (meaning it has three hulls), is 75ft long and weighs 8.3 tonnes.

It took a team of 30 people more than 30,000 hours to build B&Q over a period of seven months.

The boat carries several sails, including a huge mainsail, and a selection of foresails, one of which is bigger than a singles tennis court.


Ellen MacArthur (left) with Anna Kournikova
While not a team regular, even Anna Kournikova has lent a hand
A cosmopolitan crew from seven countries worked around the clock to help MacArthur's bid run as smoothly as possible.

Mark Turner (Britain) - first point of contact
An experienced sailor and boss of Offshore Challenges, Turner manned a dedicated satellite phone to B&Q.

Be it three in the morning or Christmas Day, he advised Ellen or acted as an "emotional punch bag" as she vented her frustrations. He also decided who MacArthur should consult about specific problems.

Neil "Albert" Graham (Australia) - technical director
Having supervised the build project from beginning to end, Graham was well placed to provide technical solutions. He sat in on a daily 1200 GMT call to the boat that also often involved build manager Olivier Allard (France), who has expert knowledge of the boat's structure, rig and engineering.

Charles Darbyshire (Britain) - technology manager
Was on hand to talk MacArthur through any communications-type problems and call on Rudi Stein (Sweden) for additional electronics support.

Lou Newlands (Britain) - media manager
Juggled the time-sensitive requests of the media with the incessant demands of the record bid, Newlands and Lucy Harwood (Britain) noticed a sharp increase in press calls since Christmas. Kate Steven (Britain) acted as liaison with sponsors B&Q and Castorama.

Loik Gallon (France) - boat captain
The "other" skipper of B&Q, Gallon looked after the boat before and after the challenge. He also offers helpful sailing advice.


Weather: MacArthur had access to a variety of weather-related websites, but her first point of contact was Ken Campbell (USA) at Commanders' weather. The New Hampshire-based centre forecasts fronts and wind speeds and helped MacArthur plot a safe and fast route.

"Weather routers" are not allowed in many races, but they are permitted in most record attempts.

Health: On-call doctor Kevin McMeel (Canada) is also an experienced yachtsman, having sailed with MacArthur on Kingfisher 2 in the Jules Verne round-the-world race in 2003. He called in at least once a week and checked up on Ellen when she cut her head on 15 January. Juliet Wilson (Britain) is Ellen's nutritionist and tried to make sure the 28-year-old ate well enough to stay healthy on board.

And MacArthur was also fitted with a sleep monitor that fed back data on her heart rate and sleeping patterns to Claudio Stampi (Italy) at the Chronobiology Institute in Boston. This information is mainly for retrospective use with a view to helping sailors better manage their sleep in future.


Ellen MacArthur on the B&Q Satellite phone
MacArthur on her satellite phone
Safety: B&Q was equipped with six McMurdo emergency distress beacons that automatically send a distress signal to the nearest Marine Maritime Rescue Centre if they become fully submerged.

There were two life rafts and three emergency "grab bags" that contained the basic survival equipment - satellite phone, food rations, water, etc.

If she fell overboard, MacArthur could release, via remote control, a safety capsule mounted on the back of the boat. This contained a single-person liferaft, a distress beacon, a satellite pager, a survival suit and food and water rations.

Living area: B&Q's central hull is divided into two tiny floors.

A "luxurious" cockpit above the waterline comes complete with heater, chart table, computers, bunk and not enough space to swing a gerbil, let alone a cat.

There is a tiny galley with a sink and a single-burner stove.

And the storage area is down below, although there is also a "cuddy" halfway between the floors, where Ellen could sit and keep a watch while being protected from the elements.

MacArthur falls off record pace
24 Jan 05 |  Sailing

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