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Stars of the Sea - Dame Ellen MacArthur

Dame Ellen MacArthur

Dame Ellen Patricia MacArthur, DBE (born July 8, 1976) is an English sailor from Whatstandwell near Matlock in Derbyshire, now based in Cowes, Isle of Wight. She is best known as a solo long-distance yachtswoman who, on February 7, 2005, broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe.

1 Early life
2 Racing career
3 Records
4 Popular culture

Ellen MacArthur: Early life

She acquired her early interest in sailing by reading Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons books and is the Patron of the Nancy Blackett Trust which owns and operates Ransome's yacht, Nancy Blackett.

She was named 1998 British Telecom/Royal Yachting Association Yachtsman of The Year in the UK and "Sailing's Young Hope" in France.

Ellen MacArthur: Racing career

Ellen MacArthur first came to general prominence in 2001 when she came second in the Vendee Globe solo round-the-world sailing race in her boat Kingfisher (named after her sponsors, Kingfisher plc), and subsequently MacArthur was awarded an MBE for services to sport.

In 2003 Ellen MacArthur captained a round-the-world record attempt for a crewed yacht in Kingfisher 2, but was thwarted by a broken mast in the Southern Ocean.

Her latest yacht, called B&Q/Castorama (after two companies in the Kingfisher group) and unveiled in January 2004, was specially designed by Nigel Irens and Benoit Cabaret for her to break solo records. The 75-foot (23-metre) trimaran was built in Australia, with many of the components specifically arranged to take into account MacArthur's 5 foot 2 inch (1.57 metre) height.

Using the yacht, her first significant record attempt in 2004 to break the west–east transatlantic crossing time failed by around one and a quarter hours, after over seven days of sailing.

Ellen MacArthur: began her attempt to break the solo record for sailing non-stop around the world on November 28, 2004. During her circumnavigation, she set records for the fastest solo voyage to the equator, past the Cape of Good Hope, past Cape Horn and back to the equator again. She crossed the finishing line near the French coast at Ushant at 2229 UTC on February 7, 2005 beating the previous record set by French sailor Francis Joyon by 1 day, 8 hours, 35 minutes, 49 seconds.

On her return to England on February 8, 2005, it was announced that she was to be appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of that achievement, becoming, it is believed, the youngest ever recipient of this honour. Coming immediately as it did (rather than appearing in due course in the New Year's or Birthday honours lists), this recognition was reminiscent of the knighthoods conferred upon Sir Francis Drake and Sir Francis Chichester upon arrival home after their respective circumnavigations in 1580 and 1967. MacArthur was also made an honorary Lieutenant Commander of the Royal Naval Reserve on the same day.

The new record for a single-handed circumnavigation is 71 days 14 hours 18 minutes 33 seconds, during which she sailed 27,354 nautical miles at an average speed of 15.9 knots.

Ellen MacArthur: Records

In June 2000, Ellen MacArthur sailed the monohull Kingfisher from Plymouth to Newport in 14 days, 23 hours, 11 minutes. This is the current record for a single-handed monohull east-to-west passage, and also the record for a single-handed woman in any vessel.

MacArthur's second place in the 2000-2001 edition of the Vendee Globe, with a time of 94 days, 4 hours and 25 minutes, is the world record for a single-handed, non-stop, monohull circumnavigation by a woman.

In June 2004, MacArthur sailed her trimaran B&Q/Castorama from Ambrose Light to Lizard Point in 7 days, 3 hours, 50 minutes. This set a new world record for a transatlantic crossing by women, remarkably beating the previous crewed record as well as the singlehanded version.

In 2005, MacArthur set a new world record for a single-handed non-stop circumnavigation in the trimaran B&Q/Castorama. Her time of 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes 33 seconds is the fastest ever circumnavigation of the world by a single-hander.

Ellen MacArthur: Popular culture

Ellen MacArthur is also the current record holder on "Star In A Reasonably Priced Car" on BBC's Top Gear. She completed the Lap in 1 minute 46.7 seconds beating Jimmy Carr by 0.2 seconds.

Ellen MacArthur is often parodied on the TV show Dead Ringers. The sketches parody her 'Video Diaries', made at sea. 'Ellen MacArthur' is shown doing an everyday task, such 'Ellen MacArthur goes shopping' or 'Ellen MacArthur does a spot of housework', while a voice over provides dramatic commentary on the proceedings. They inevitably end with 'Ellen' in tears, sobbing that "It's all going wrong! I don't have enough change for the shopping trolley." or "Bob's gone crazy! He wants me to sail to France for this Sail 8 thing. Is that what Africans want? Overcrowding in Edinburgh?".

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Dame Ellen MacArthur

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