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Kingfisher extends Ellen MacArthur sponsorship to 2002

by Kingfisher Media on 10 Mar 2001
The month that has passed since Ellen MacArthur successfully sailed 'Kingfisher' across the finish line of the Vendée Globe race has not been a quiet one. In between returning to Les Sables d'Olonne to meet each of the skippers as they finished, Ellen has been trying to catch up with family in Derbyshire, and start to work on the book that she has dreamt of writing for a number of years - that book will be published by Penguin in October.

Following the extraordinary and unforgettable welcome in Les Sables d'Olonne, Ellen and 'Kingfisher' received a fantastic and surprising welcome back to UK waters in Southampton and then a few days later in the heart of London, at Tower Bridge. She then sailed to Caen, northern France, where she was lifted out and the keel and mast removed so that she could be transported by lorry and then barge to Paris - for the final part of the programme before a short refit and check over - and a chance for Ellen to get away for a month to work on her book. Initial testing by Designer Merf Owen of the hull, keel and sails shows 'Kingfisher' finished the Vendée Globe in excellent condition other than the collision damage and failed genoa forestay. A credit to her skipper, preparation team and designers.

Ellen's thoughts on getting back to dry land : 'I can't say that the last 4 weeks have been normal. After so much time onboard 'Kingfisher' it was very difficult to leave her, and although I have had a relatively 'earth like' existence in the past few weeks, my mind has been very much still at sea. The support and interest from around the world in my story has surprised me, but at the same time it has been a great reward to see how as a team we've managed to share the power of a race like the Vendee Globe with so many people. Right now though, I'm keen to find a little peace, work on my book and then get back to sea in May'

Having turned down a majority of the numerous offers to exploit her new found fame [which could easily occupy her on land for a year or more], Ellen's year will be one spent predominantly at sea - but not just on the one hull of the 'Kingfisher' that she has sailed the last 40,000 miles. As well as competing in at least 4 races onboard 'Kingfisher' in the IMOCA circuit, she will take on a new and exciting challenge by competing in the Formula 1 ORMA Multihull circuit - giant 60 foot trimarans (3 hulls), that are as wide as they are long, and represent some of the fastest and most exciting racing machines on the planet.

She has been asked by Alain Gautier, former Vendee Globe winner (1992/3), who was also part of the Kingfisher Design Team, to compete with him onboard 'Foncia' his state-of-the-art 60 foot trimaran. The season kicks off on May 13 with a gruelling 8 or 9 day non-stop race from Cherbourg to a port on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Then its on to a series of 5 Grand Prix events - four day intense fully crewed races in sight of land and spectators - and will culminate in the big event of the year the Transat Jacques Vabre. This race is 2 -up, 4500 miles of high stress racing from Le Havre in northern France across the Atlantic and south to Brazil at incredible speeds.

'I was surprised and flattered when Alain asked me to join his team for the season onboard 'Foncia'. I certainly have a lot to learn, but that is going to be a great new challenge for me. Racing these fast and powerful multihulls is another new experience - sailing is a fascinating sport in this respect, so many things to learn. I cannot think of a better way enter this circuit than with Alain, who played a key role in the success of the Vendée Globe campaign. I will sail as crew during the year to develop my skills in what is a new discipline for me. Even though I have raced briefly on one of these 'flying machines' in the Fastnet 1999, its going to be a very steep curve leading up to the 2-up, high pressure, Transatlantic race in November. I'm very happy at the same time to have the chance to race 'Kingfisher' the monohull during the year as well - with a crew - pushing her to new limits, which I know she'll enjoy! Another full year. I'm looking forward to it, I think I've been on land too long alreadyŠ'

Listen to Ellen direct in the Audio section of our website

During the year, Ellen will also compete onboard 'Kingfisher' the monohull in 2 Grand Prix events (inshore, intense 4 to 5 days of racing), as well as provisionally the mammoth EDS Atlantic Challenge event and some record attempts in European waters. Nick Moloney, highly experienced Volvo (Whitbread), America's Cup, and multihull sailor (Playstation for The Race), will co-skipper 'Kingfisher' throughout the year. Nick also attempted the Mini Transat in 1999 in ex-'Financial Dynamics/Le Poisson' - the Mini 6.50m (21 foot) boat that Ellen raced across the Atlantic in her first solo race in 1997. Nick's aim is to compete in the next Vendée Globe.

Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy, chief executive of Kingfisher plc, said 'All of us at Kingfisher have been very pleased with the extraordinary external and internal benefits that our partnership with Ellen has brought us. Because Ellen is so young and such a high achiever, we have encouraged her to explore all of the options that come her way, so that we could work together to give her the best opportunity to pursue her brilliant career. Ellen's performance has already been extraordinary. But like all of us at Kingfisher, she is not content to stand still, she's eager to keep on pushing hard, and take on another new challenge. We are very pleased to be supporting her in that'.



March Greet Vendée Globe skipper and former race teacher of Ellen Yves Parlier on his arrival in Les Sables d'Olonne, France. Technical debriefing session from the race with the design and shore team.

April Work on the book - due to be published in October.

29 April - 5 May Kingfisher's first Grand Prix Regatta in Fecamp, France.

13 - 21 May Crew onboard Foncia in the Challenge Mondial, Cherbourg to Tarragon, Spain. The 8 day non-stop race takes competitors via the Azores Islands, down the coast of Portugal, through the Gibralter straits in to the Med.

5 - 10 June Crew onboard Foncia in Cap d'Agde, south of France, Multihull Grand Prix.

12 - 17 June Skipper Kingfisher in Quiberon, NW France in the second Grand Prix Regatta for monohulls.

19 - 24 June Crew onboard Foncia in Italy, Multihull Grand Prix.

27 June - 25 Aug Kingfisher plans compete in the EDS Atlantic Challenge Race; St Malo-Hamburg-Portsmouth-Baltimore-Boston-St Malo. Ellen should be onboard for a majority of the race

28 Aug - 2 Sep Crew onboard Foncia in the Multihull Grand Prix at Fecamp, France

11 - 16 Sep Crew onboard Foncia Multihull Grand Prix, Belgium.

Sep - Oct Training on Foncia for Transat Jacques Vabre

4 Nov Co-skipper with Alain Gautier on Foncia, in the Transat Jacques Vabre.

May Compete onboard Kingfisher in the Challenge Mondial Assistance from Cherbourg to the Mediterranean, if confirmed as an event.

For more information on Kingfisher plc,
For more information on Ellen's programme including images of 'Foncia'

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