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Saturday, 13 January, 2001, 15:21 GMT
Ellen's answers
Answers please: Ellen MacArthur
British yachtswoman Ellen MacCarthur answers your questions... from her boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

real 56k Click here for Ellen's answers.

Watch our exclusive webcast from the London Boat show at Earls Court where BBC Sport's Richard Simmonds put your questions to Ellen as she sails around the notorious Cape Horn in the Vendee Globe race.

An accomplished solo skipper, 24-year-old Ellen MacArthur is currently lying in second place in the round-the-world challenge.

The 25,000-mile race, which began on November 9 2000, takes the fleet from Les Sables d'Olonne on the west coast of France and circles the three Capes from West to East.

We asked you to send questions for Ellen about her voyages so far, the trials and tribulations of solo-sailing and simply life on the ocean waves.

Was YOUR question included?

real 56k Click here to find out.

James Mountjoy from New Zealand asks:

Q: Sea-sickness is a problem for most of us, is it a problem for you in this race?

A: For me, I'm lucky, I've never really suffered from sea-sickness. Ever since I sailed from when I was a kid I've managed to survive without it. I have a lot of respect for those who are ill as I know it can be pretty miserable. Luckily I've been OK.

Neil and Nicola in the UK ask:

Q: November 9th was a long time ago, how do you keep up the pressure on that boat all the time?

A:I think the biggest thing that makes the difference for me being out here is the amount of energy that's gone into the project before the start, and the length of time I've been dreaming about actually doing this. If I just stop and think for a second about all the people that have helped me to be here, helped to prepare the boat, and helped get everything ready for the start, then it makes everything so worth while - and to be able to share it with people. That's just worth 100 per cent, and if there's ever a low moment, I don't have the right to feel low because I'm out here for a reason.

Toby Ashley from the UK asks:

Q: You've been in the Southern Ocean since early December, have you been cold and wet ever since?

A: The Southern Ocean has been more than I expected really. It's been more beautiful and the storms have been fantastic. It's been very difficult, it's pushed me far further than my limits. I've really found myself, and it's a long way to go to find yourself, but I've found it.

McNabb asks:

Q: Do you almost feel more comfortable on the water than on the land?

A:I do feel pretty comfortable here which is not surprising really judging the amount of time we've spent together - the boat and I, that is. We set off about eight months from Cape Horn to sail back to Europe single-handed. So we're doing the same trip again now just under a year later. And if all goes well when I get back then I would have been aboard Kingfisher for most of the time on my own for more than six months of the last 12. She really does feel like home and that's not a surprise.

Jo Eastern asks:

Q: Much of the time that you're in there, the boat is sailing itself. How does the boat sail itself?

A: If the boat sailed itself, things would be very easy. Basically, the boat is steered by an automatic pilot which is an electric system which steers relative to the wind angle or to a compass heading. It's a system which is a mixture of auto helm and BMG. We've had a few problems with it so far, but generally it's steering pretty well. Outside of us it's sail changes and making sure that we put the boat in the right place. So, the steering's a very small part of it. Actually handling the boat, specifically handling the sails and the navigation is the hardest part.

Kate Hillborne asks:

Q: How do you cope with the boredom?

A: I think I can honestly say that in the last two months there's not been one second in one day when I've actually been bored. Generally in this racing, it's more than you can do to find time to sleep. You spend all your time just looking at the weather, making sure the sails are OK. The boat's sailing 24 hours a day. It's my job to make her sail as fast as I can 24 hours a day. And that can be, like last night, pretty hard work.

Raymond Zaloof asks:

Q: You've been away from the luxuries of life since November 9th, if there was one thing you could have now, what would it be?

A: I don't think it would be something I could have, I think it would be something I'd wish for. And I wish that all the competitors that are out here get back safely.

Andrew John from the UK asks:

Q: When you go to sleep at night, can you really sleep without worrying about what's happening outside?

A: Probably not actually. You find that when you fall asleep, when you do actually drift off, it's a kind of semi-sleep and if something changes on the boat then I actually find I wake up. I have a computer programme which monitors exactly what's happening with the wind speed or boat speed the whole time, so I can see what's been happening while I've been asleep. You find that it's amazing that even though you have slept, when the boat speed changes or the wind changes, the motion of the boat changes, and I wake up instantly and I can then adjust or trim the sails accordingly. It is a worry, but it's something you learn to live with.

Ellen MacArthur in the Vendee Globe race

Home-coming heroine

Race news




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