Unaffected bv the earthquake Ellen stretches her time advantage

* B&Q BUILDS BIGGEST ADVANTAGE OF RECORD ATTEMPT SO FAR… Sailing at 20 knots through the night in an easterly direction along the direct course, Ellen has built up her best advantage so far in the entire record attempt – B&Q is now 1 day, 6 hours and 21 minutes ahead of the record at 0710 GMT this morning. It is a testament to Ellen’s tenacity that through the gale-force conditions since Christmas Eve, she has tirelessly pushed the 75-trimaran through horrendous sea conditions, never letting up, to get the maximum speed out of B&Q that the conditions would allow…

* CHRISTMAS STILL ON HOLD FOR MACARTHUR… There was hardly any mention, and certainly no opportunity, to celebrate Christmas on board B&Q as 35-40 knot north-westerly winds swept through on Christmas Eve and through Christmas Day. The sea state was very rough and any chances of digging out her Christmas Box stored down below could not have been further from Ellen’s mind. Her focus was purely on self-preservation to get B&Q and herself through the Force 8 gale, gusting 50 knots… On Christmas Day night, the brunt of the storm had passed over B&Q and the wind decreased to around 20-25 knots. But this only added more pressure to Ellen to keep B&Q moving as fast as she could to the east – 12 sail changes in the night, moving up a gear every time, until the wind started to increase again as Ellen sailed back into the same storm which had stalled ahead of her… Another series of sail changes reducing sail as the winds climbed back up to 30-35 knots with gusts of 40 knots. There is an explanation as to why they call this the ‘Roaring Forties’!

* APPROACHING CAPE LEEUWIN ON THE SW TIP OF AUSTRALIA… B&Q is 715 miles SSW of Cape Leeuwin [the south-western-most point of Australia] leaving the Kerguelen Islands that she passed just 4 days ago in her wake. Francis Joyon crossed the longitude of Cape Leeuwin at just 39 degrees south, as intense Southern Ocean storms were still preventing him from diving south to the shortest route. B&Q is approximately 370 miles to the south of his track today and this trend will continue for the next few days until converging again south of New Zealand. Joyon set a record solo time of 30 days, 7 hours and 29 minutes to Cape Leeuwin and Ellen will need to cross the Cape Leeuwin longitude, approximately 275 miles further east of her, by 15:39 GMT tomorrow [28th December]. At her current speed [last 24 hour run at 0710 GMT was 473 miles, only 8 miles under her best 24-hour run so far of 481 miles] and all going well, Ellen will hopefully be passing under Cape Leeuwin by late tonight.

* B&Q PUSHING EAST AHEAD OF THE COLD FRONT but may get forced to sail a more southerly course as the winds turn more right into the north over the next 12-24 hours – Ellen needs to avoid going to far south and risk being on the wrong side of the next potential storm coming this weekend. Winds mainly 30-35 knots from the north-west with some squally conditions to keep Ellen vigilant.