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MacArthur 'stressed' as finish nears

MacArthur
MacArthur has a lead of about 60 nautical miles ahead of Golding

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ST MALO, France -- Briton Ellen MacArthur has continued her lead in the trans-Atlantic Route du Rhum, but admitted the stress was mounting as the finish neared.

The single-handed race began in St Malo, France just over 10 days ago and is due in Guadaloupe about Friday night.

MacArthur covered the most distance in the 24 hours to 0300 GMT Thursday, sailing her 60 ft monohull 343 miles, compared to 327 miles by fellow Briton Mike Golding, who is chasing her in second place about 60 miles behind.

MacArthur's autopilot had malfunctioned, causing her to spend a lot of time helming in the past two nights.

"Yesterday I lost some miles with a sail change -- it was stupid. The stress is mounting but I'm trying to do things well so as to control it," she said from her yacht Kingfisher.

In the multihull class, Michel Desjoyeaux had covered 322 nautical miles in 24 hours, but was dissatisfied with his progress.

As the leader, Desjoyeaux was just under 1000 nautical miles from the finish line which he hopes to cross on Saturday afternoon.

Marc Guillemot on Biscuits La Trinitaine had moved to second place among the multihull fleet overnight.

"Nothing bad has happened but I've had a few intense little moments and some instances of panic," Guillemot said.

"There is obviously some stress and adrenaline rushes when it begins to pound, and when there are waves it's even worse."

The fleet struggled through atrocious weather in the first few days of the race, with numerous capsizes, dismastings and damage.



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