A QUICK PITSTOP IN TAIWAN & THEY'RE OFF AGAIN
Wednesday, 19 April 2006 at 22:03
* B&Q CROSSES FINISH LINE OFF TAIPEI AT 18:20:36 GMT YESTERDAY (19.04.06) - “The weather did not do us any favours which made the timing extremely difficult for Taiwan…”
* FINISHING LEG 5 MARKS THE HALFWAY stage of the Asian Record Circuit for B&Q ESTABLISHING THE SIXTH RECORD on the circuit in an ELAPSED TIME OF 3 DAYS, 1 MINUTE AND 55 SECONDS.
* A CHALLENGING LEG as B&Q are forced to navigate through a sea of fishing boats: “We had a situation where fishing boat after fishing boat mounted up around us, I would estimate that there were at least 150 if not 200 in view!”
* SHORT PITSTOP IN TAIWAN as Ellen and the crew must prepare B&Q for the NEXT LEG TO HONG KONG. Singaporean sailor, Elaine Chua, joins Ellen and the crew on the leg to Taiwan and will be onboard for the record to Hong Kong.
* B&Q DEPART TAIWAN TODAY for Leg 6 – estimated time for start is approximately 1200 GMT today.
New records established so far:
1. Yokohama-Jeju Island 5d 11h 10m 51s (906nm) ?
2. Jeju Island-Dalian 1d 15h 57m 28s (418nm) ?
3. The Manchu Record (Yokoham - Dalian) 7d 3h 18m 19s (1324nm)
4. The Marco Polo Record (Dalian – Qingdao) 1d 0h 2m 53s (265nm)
5. The Cotton Record (Qingdao – Shanghai) 1d 5h 25m 33s (308nm)
6. The Old Tea Record (Shanghai – Taipei)
It has been yet another challenging leg for Ellen and the crew onboard B&Q, as they crossed the finish line yesterday (19.04.06) at 18:20:36 GMT, to establish record number six in a total elapsed time of 3 days, 1 minute and 55 seconds. The 580-mile leg from Shanghai to Taipei saw frustration for everyone onboard as they were thwarted by light airs, navigating through a sea of boats and the delay waiting for customs clearance. Since Taiwan claimed independence after the Communist victory in mainland China in 1949, an uneasy relationship has existed. A repercussion of this is that there is no direct navigational route between mainland China and Taiwan, and all shipping must clear customs in Japanese waters before entering Taiwan. Ellen and the crew had to wait for customs clearance at a waypoint off Ishigaki Island in Japanese waters, and light conditions delayed their estimated arrival time, forcing them to wait overnight until a customs boat was available to clear them for their onward journey.
“This has been a hard leg for everyone onboard, due to the challenges of navigating our way though a sea of fishing boats, the light conditions and the delay at customs, at times it really felt like everything was stacked against us reaching Taipei, and sailing to a schedule means we do not have the luxury of choosing our weather window, but we are certainly glad to have crossed the finish line and to have reached Taiwan. One of the most unbelievable moments on this trip was during the second night at sea where we had a situation where fishing boat after fishing boat mounted up around us. Once dark the scene was surreal. I can only compare it to being out on the water during the fire works display in Cowes Week, or during the Royal Navy Fleet Review where the water was literally thick with boats. It wasn’t only boats but also their nets, cages and floats - marked with green and red flashing lights, as well as fixed green and red lights - funnily enough their were identical to our navigation lights!! There were also cargo ships steaming through - and I have no idea how they don't take out the fishing boats, there were hundreds - literally. At the beginning of the night as it was going starting to go dark Loik counted 47 - and then they multiplied - massively. I would estimate that there were at least 150 if not 200 in view - and at least as many floats and lights. This circuit could not be further from attempting a solo record around the world where 90% of the time we are sailing offshore – thousands of miles from land at times, where encountering shipping becomes a rarity. Sailing in these waters one of the biggest contrasts is the amount of vessels we are encountering every day and night of this tour. It really is quite incredible and we all have to be constantly vigilant to avoid disaster. It’s a very different kind of challenge and so far as been an eye-opening experience for all of us.”
Ellen has sailed this leg with four crew – regulars Loik Gallon, Charles Darbyshire and Erwan Lemellieur – and was also joined by Elaine Chua, aged 28, from Singapore. The idea has always been to include other Asian sailors on this tour and Elaine replaced Chinese solo sailor, Shaun Weng on this leg. Elaine competed in the 2000/1 BT Global Challenge onboard the 72ft monohull ‘Save the Children” (a 10-month westabout circumnavigation of the planet). In 2005 Elaine became the first Asian woman to compete and finish the 4,200-mile Mini Transat solo race. The opportunity to race onboard B&Q is a a great opportunity for Elaine : “I’d like to be involved in bigger open classes. Offshore racing has become my passion and this is as a once in a lifetime opportunity to sail on a boat like this with Ellen and the crew who are fantastic!”
Having arrived into Taipei later than expected, this now means a quick turnaround as the crew must prepare the trimaran for the 465-mile leg to Hong Kong departing today (20.04.06) – estimated start time around 1200 GMT. The crew have set themselves a target time of 2 days 16 hours for this next record. The Colonial Record [Taipei to Hong Kong] marks the penultimate leg within Chinese waters, as B&Q will then head south towards Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. The Colonial record was named after Hong-Kong became a powerful port and gateway to Asia and held an increasing interest for Occidental countries. Hong Kong SAR is located along the coast of the South China Sea, and is a metropolis like no other in the world – a dynamic city with a strong blend of culture. Despite the British influence, the culture is pure Chinese and 6000 people work or live on the junks in Aberdeen Harbour. It has become a world-class financial, trading and business centre whilst remaining a popular tourist destination.
Leg 6 to Hong Kong will also signal a big change in the temperature onboard B&Q which continues to rise as they sail south. Travelling southwards means getting deeper into the Trade Winds as the predominant north to north-east winds will be replaced by consistent easterly winds at the southern tip of Taiwan. “The current forecast looks good for the start from Taiwan today,” commented Charles Darbyshire: “we should get some strong north-easterly winds as we head out into the Straits between Taiwan and mainland China. We could see 40+ knots at times and it will be fast downwind ride to begin with as we head south-west on a direct course to Hong Kong. But there is a possibility that we my run into some lighter airs as we head further south, which may slow our approach to Hong Kong over the last 180-miles.”
OMEGA is the Official Timekeeper to Ellen MacArthur and the Asian Record Circuit 2006
19-20 April ?Stopover: Taipei
21-23 April ?Leg 6: Taipei to Hong Kong
24-30 April ?Stopover: Hong Kong
Leg 7: Hong Kong to Sanya (Hainan Island)
Leg 8: Sanya to Nha Trang, Vietnam
Leg 9: Nha Trang to Terengganu, Malaysia
8- 11 May ?Stopover: Terengganu
11-12 May ?Leg 10: Terengganu to Singapore
13-17 May ?Stopover: Singapore
The trimaran will return to the UK onboard a CMA-CGM container ship departing Singapore on 23rd May. (The above itinerary may be subject to change due to weather conditions in the locality, and logistical requirements) ??