Ellen MacArthur shared her plans for the next few years at the official opening of the London Boat Show today–highlighted by a 5-year extension of her Kingfisher contract. For 2002, she plans to complete her book and race in the Route du Rhum aboard her Open 60.
Next year MacArthur will attempt the Jules Verne record aboard one of the 110-foot maxi-cats built for The Race. No announcement was made as to whether this would be Grant Daltons Club Med or one of the other two Ollier designs. Bruno Peyron could well be done with Orange (the former Innovation Explorer) by the time that MacArthur is ready to go, and Cam Lewiss Team Adventure still lies crippled on the East Coast of the U.S. but could be repaired.
Later in 2003, MacArthur will sail the Open 60 trimaran Kingfisher-Foncia, re-named Kingfisher II, on the Transat Jacques Vabre with Alain Gautier. After the Jacques Vabre, MacArthur will have a new Open 60 Tri built, named Kingfisher III, for the Route du Rhum 2006. When asked if the world has seen the best of Ellen MacArthur yet, Offshore Challenges manager, Mark Turner replied: “No. Most of all, Ellen knows that she doesnt know everything.”
During the conference, Kingfisher co-skipper Nick Moloney was officially welcomed into the Offshore Challenges Sailing Team. Also conspicuous on the platform was Kingfisher-Foncia co-skipper Alain Gautier.
Meanwhile, off her homeport of Le Ciotat, France, Peyrons Orange has been conducting sea trials. After some changes and modifications, Peyrons team started sea trials with Orange on December 29th and, so far, are pleased with the performance. ” We shook out a reef, then at days end we tried the new solent, “said Peyron. “Which allowed us to approach 30 knots on the clock already, without forcing.” Orange may leave for her Jules Verne attempt as soon as mid-February.
On the other side of the globe, one of navigator Mark Rudigers fliers has finally panned out. Neal MacDonalds Assa Abloy entered the Hauraki Gulf 24 miles ahead of the nearest competitor, Amer Sports One, and finished at 0620 local time in Auckland, winning the third leg of the Volvo Race.
Assa won line honors in the Sydney Hobart as part of this leg and upon continuing Leg 3, dove north hard for breeze, followed by Dalton. The biggest trap lay at the north end of New Zealands North Island, where a high was stalled. As veteran Whitbread and Volvo racers and race-watchers know, North Cape has broken the back of many a team but Assa managed to get through an area of light breezes with only a slight compression of the fleet. Dalton and crew gained 35 miles on Assa as she sat but it wasnt enough.
Dalts and the boys are praying that News Corp finishes lower than third, giving Amer Sports One a lock on over-all second. The race for third is tight, with illbruck, News Corp, and Tyco all within a mile of one another as they jibe down to the finish.