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Ellen MacArthur is a solo long distance yachtswoman, breaking a world record in 2005.
Ellen MacArthur first hit the headlines in 2001 after single-handedly racing non-stop around the world in the Vendée Globe at the young age of 24. Again in February 2005, Ellen grabbed the attention of the world’s media when she set a new world record on board her 75ft trimaran of 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds, becoming the fastest solo sailor around the planet until Francis Joyon broke her record in 2008.
Ellen’s career in sailing began as a school girl when she saved her dinner money to buy her first boat. In 1995, she now owned a 21ft pocket cruiser & sailed single-handedly around Britain at the age of 18. It was this year that Ellen was named Young Sailor of the Year.
Ellen asked thousands of companies for sponsorship but received only two replies. Undaunted, she moved to France & promptly won the Mini-Transat race from Brest to Martinique. This brought her the funding to compete in the Route du Rhum, where she came home first in her class despite having a shattered running board. Ellen was acclaimed in the French press as ‘la jeune espoire de la voile’ – ‘sailing’s young hope’. They called her the greatest English sailor since Nelson.
It hasn’t always been straightforward for Ellen. When skippering a 14-strong crew in the Jules Verne Trophy, Ellen was forced to withdraw when the mast broke but her spirit was undiminished; the next year she set a new solo non-stop round the world record. The journey had been completed only once in a multihull, in 73 days. She completed the course with a day to spare.
Ellen was awarded the MBE in the 2001 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
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