posted on Feb, 7 2005 @ 02:28 PM
British yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur has closed in on the solo round-the-world sailing record.
"I'm absolutely exhausted. I've had about 15 minutes sleep all through the night," MacArthur told BBC radio from a satellite phone on the boat that
has been her home for 71 days.
She needs to cross the finishing line between France and England by 18:04 (AEDT Thursday) to beat the 72-day, 23-hour record set by Frenchman Francis
Joyon last year. At 03:00 AEDT today, the diminutive yachtswoman had 130 miles of her 27,000 mile-plus journey left. MacArthur is taking nothing for
granted and told her website she needs to avoid any last minute distractions as she nears the line between Ushard, northern France, and Lizard Point,
"Right now I've got a radar alarm going off, there's a ship in the area, and I'm going to have to contend with ships right up to the finish.
"There's a plane flying over me right now. All I know is that it's going to be a very, very long night.
"I am very, very tired. I was hoping I would be in by sunset tonight. But that looks absolutely impossible now."
MacArthur will be met by her shore team and a doctor when she crosses the line. A large screen and clock have been erected by the National Maritime
Museum in Falmouth and fans are already starting to gather. Hundreds are expected to walk up to the Falmouth headland in southern England to welcome
her. When the 28-year-old MacArthur started out in November in her 75ft trimaran, there seemed little chance she would beat Joyon.
He had knocked 20 days off the previous record and was the first person to do the trip non-stop in a multi-hull boat. But kind weather and the good
performance of her tri-hull boat have left MacArthur odds-on to break the record. MacArthur first came to prominence when she finished second in the
Vendee Globe round the world race in 2000-2001.