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MacArthur hits container, repairs major damage & races on!

by King Fisher Media on 3 Feb 2001

Source: Kingfisher Challenges

The Vendée Globe Race HQ were informed this morning by Kingfisher Challenges that 24yr old British skipper Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher), currently holding second place in the race,
had sustained significant damage late on Tuesday evening when she sailed in to a solid object, suspected to be a semi-submerged container. After two days of work, she has been able
to get back in the race. This morning's position report actually put ŒKingfisher¹ 79 miles behind PRB, matching him for speed and heading and, having pulled back 3 miles since
yesterday afternoon, Ellen was 2438 miles from the finish.

Just before sunset Tuesday evening, Ellen was suddenly thrown forward as ŒKingfisher¹ was brought to a grinding halt whilst sailing upwind at 11 knots - the noise of ripping carbon
being the first frightening sound as the 60 foot racing machine lurched, injured, over the object. Ellen's first thoughts: 'It was a gut wrenching sound...I've relived it many times over
since in my mind.' The port dagger board was destroyed, and port rudder damaged but not seriously.

Forty eight hours, a lot of hard work, sweat and tears later, and Ellen has Kingfisher sailing at close to full potential once again - but unquestionably one of the toughest moments of the
race for a very tired skipper at this point. Removing the damaged remains of the board, manhandling the other board out of its housing from one side to the other, with hours of DIY on
the way to make it work upside down on the opposite side. Incredibly, the distance lost to the leader during this time, was only 30 miles.

Ellen's outlook on the remainder of this marathon race: 'For sure with the problems we've had, there is a loss of performance, but very much in my own mind, the race is still on. I'm
looking ahead at Mich and at the guys behind, and I promised myself I wouldn't give up until we passed that finish line.'

This dramatic news has been kept private until this point for two reasons. Firstly Ellen's desire to get the boat back to 100% again before admitting to what was a big setback. Secondly
to allow Ellen to recuperate a little before sharing in detail one of the toughest periods of the race so far.

The daggerboards are an essential part of an Open 60 setup when sailing upwind - with a swing keel, the daggerboard acts as lateral resistance. Kingfisher's daggerboards are
assymetric, almost 4 metres long and weight over 70 kgs; necessary to take the excessive loads put on them when sailing upwind. The board was designed such that in the case of an
impact like this it should break first, rather than break the boat ­ an important success from a design point of view. They were also designed to be used in an emergency the other way
up - like now, although not without a fair bit of work to make it possible. Likewise, the damage to the tip of the rudder was controlled by the sacrificial part at the bottom of the blade. It
is structurally sound and with a very small performance effect.

Full story, images and audio files on Kingfisher Challenges website and available from:

All the news and images on the official race website

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