MacArthur has just 1,000 miles left in journey

LONDON -- Low winds could dash Ellen MacArthur's bid to beat the solo round-the-world sailing record, her team said on Thursday.

More than three days inside the current record and with only 1,000 miles remaining of the 27,000-mile race, MacArthur faces losing out because of poor winds around the Azores Islands in the Atlantic Ocean.

"Azores put the brake on . . . a high price to pay both on the record stakes but also physically for Ellen, who is now beyond exhaustion -- only 20 minutes' sleep in the last 24 hours," the British-based team wrote on its Web site.

The changeable weather is making predictions very difficult, according to her media chief, Lucy Harwood.

"It's touch-and-go at the moment. The weather is changing every time she looks at it," she said.

When the 28-year-old from Derbyshire, in central England, started out in November, there seemed little chance she would beat the 72-day-record set last year by Frenchman Francis Joyon.

Joyon had knocked 20 days off the previous record and had been the first person to complete the trip in a multi-hull boat without stopping.

However, good weather and the excellent performance of her tri-hull boat have given MacArthur the chance of breaking the record.

"Sometimes it just comes down to the weather," Harwood said.

MacArthur came to prominence when she finished second in the Vendee Globe round the world race in 2000-01.