the world ... in 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes
a day of breaking the solo round-the-world record, Ellen
MacArthur was asked what it is that marks her out as
different. Clearly overwhelmed at having
achieved her ambition of breaking the solo
circumnavigation record at the first attempt, she
lighted on precisely the qualities that will this
morning bring several thousand people to Falmouth to
witness her return to dry land.
"When I set myself a
challenge I am someone who is determined to do to see it
through," she said. "When I set my mind to
something and say I am going to do it, I do it. The
drive to do it comes from people who are supporting me.
I don't want to let anyone down."
75 foot trimaran moored outside the National Maritime
Museum where thousands of well-wishers had gathered to
greet Elllen’s arrival. The sound of cheering from the
massed crowd reverberated around the museum as B&Q
berthed on the pontoons where Ellen's parents joined her
on the trimaran.
Minutes after stepping ashore MacArthur appeared on
stage in Event Square alongside the Museum and was
greeted by rapturous applause from the thousands of
people crammed into the Square. Ellen insisted that her
team share the adulation, and had them join her on stage
to savour the cheers of the crowd and to spray each
other with champagne.
again Ellen from Solar Navigator HQ
At a press conference later, Ellen talked about the
difference between her achievement and that of Sir Robin
Knox-Johnson, who was first to sail non-stop around the
world. "The goalposts have moved," she said.
"It is very different sailing around the world so
fast. Speed comes with a very high price - the motion of
the boat can be horrendous. They are very, very
Breaking the non-stop round the world record is clearly
not the end of Ellen's record ambitions. In today's
press conference Ellen said it was not emotionally
difficult to get off B&Q today (unlike the pain she
suffered when getting off Kingfisher after the Vendée
Globe in 2001) because "there are lots of records
out there to go for.
" The trans-Atlantic record is almost certainly
something I'll try for," she said referring to the
record attempt last year when she failed by just 75
minutes to beat the Atlantic record.
Ellen was also asked where her pet name for B&Q –
‘Mobi’ – came from. "When the boat was being
built in New Zealand I was wandering around the boat
after everyone had gone home, and the upside down, long
central hull looked just like a sperm whale."
Those supporters will be out in
force today as, around 11am, MacArthur returns to the
port she left more than 10 weeks ago in pursuit of a
record which by her own admission she had only a slim
chance of beating.
Paul and Sue Valenti from the
New Forest are typical of those inspired by MacArthur's
progress, and made the 200 mile journey west to greet
her on Sunday. After spending the night in a B&B
they were yesterday preparing for a long wait on the
quayside."We sail out of Lympton,
and we just had to be here to see her come home,"
said Mr Valenti. "We just wanted to be a part of
it, seeing a Briton do something so well."
The first time MacArthur
single-handedly confounded the sailing world she did so
almost by stealth. At 24, her remarkable second-place
finish in the 2001 Vendée Globe
saw her become the
youngest solo circumnavigator in nautical history and
the fastest ever woman, but her achievement, first noted
in France, snuck up on the British public.
By contrast, when MacArthur
disembarks today from her 70 ft trimaran B&Q as the
world record holder for the most arduous journey in
sailing regardless of age or gender, she will be in no
doubt on which side of the Channel she has landed, nor
about the warmth of the welcome.
A stage-managed return is
anticipated, delivering value for money to crowds who
have made their way to Britain's most westerly corner to
greet her, and the sponsors who have funded her
She will be greeted this
morning by a flotilla that will travel out to meet
B&Q and will accompany her all the way into
Falmouth, where her skipper will light two flares to
signal her landfall before being reunited with her
back home with parents
Ellen MacArthur was back on land
last night, with three new titles to her name -
unofficial first lady of the seas, dame and lieutenant
commander. By the time she had tied up her
trimaran, B&Q, in Falmouth, Cornwall, yesterday
lunchtime, she was confirmed as probably the youngest
MacArthur was also honoured by
the Royal Navy, which announced yesterday she had been
created an honorary navy officer bearing the title
Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy Reserve.
"She's in the navy now," said navy spokesman
Thousands of supporters were on
the harbourside at Falmouth to greet her as the world's
fastest solo round-the-world sailor. Hundreds more
welcomed her home aboard a flotilla of boats that sailed
to meet her.
Tributes also flowed.
Sir Chay Blyth, who sailed around the world non-stop against the
prevailing wind in 292 days in 1970-71, said: "What
Ellen has done is truly remarkable."
Fellow solo sailor Emma
Richards, 28, who came fourth in the 2003 Around Alone
race, said: "She had already achieved a huge amount
but she then took on a challenge that was among the
toughest in the world."
MacArthur, overwhelmed by her
reception, paid tribute to her support team: "There
was always a team of people behind me, in mind if not in
body." She said she planned to rest before taking
on further records. But next on her list could be the
transatlantic record. "The record is there and it's
something I'll be aiming for," she said.
turn out escort B&Q to Falmouth
Lest anyone aboard the hundreds
of vessels that scurried out of Falmouth harbour to
greet Ellen MacArthur yesterday morning was in doubt
about the scale of her achievement, Neptune laid on a
hailstorm by way of reminder.
With a dozen knots of wind
blowing icy gravel into the faces of friends,
wellwishers and journalists in search of their hero, and
a healthy swell testing the wisdom of a full breakfast,
the discomfort was a tiny taste of what MacArthur had
endured in the 71 days that preceded her triumphant
homecoming as the world's fastest solo circumnavigator.
Thankfully it did not last.
Appropriately enough for a feat shaped and governed by
the elements, the weather came through for MacArthur at
the last, as ultimately it had on every leg of her epic
As the ad hoc flotilla sighted
HMS Severn, MacArthur's looming Royal Navy companion
over the last 24 hours, followed by the slender
silhouette of B&Q, the trimaran that took her into
the record books, the skies cleared and the sun finally
shone down. Dame Ellen shone back, her cheeks glowing
with the accumulated windburn of two months' solitary
struggle, and the emotion of such a welcome.
The final three miles back to
the harbour where her journey began became an impromptu
lap of honour, with B&Q, sailed now by MacArthur's
shore crew, leading in a haphazard multitude of craft.
Helicopters circled and a trio of Hawk jets swooped
overhead as trawlers, smacks, and pleasure yachts
jostled with gin palaces and kayaks for prime position
alongside B&Q, eager for a glimpse of its skipper
and, even better, to receive a wave.
Every time she obliged by
raising both her arms and cocking her head in that oddly
self-conscious fashion, she set of a cacophony of cheers
and klaxon calls. As she and the entourage passed
Pendennis Point, the headland that guards Falmouth's
deep harbour, the boom of fireworks mimicked the cannon
fire that would have greeted predecessors in centuries
Amid the comfort of a thousand
strangers, MacArthur was reunited with those closest to
parents Ken and Avril were brought alongside
for a brief moment before rushing ashore to await their
daughter. The biggest hug, however, was reserved for
Mark Turner, MacArthur's business partner and project
manager who has been on the end of a mobile throughout
Looking remarkably sprightly
for someone who had got by on an average of less than
two hours' sleep for the last 10 weeks, she thanked the
crowd before offering an insight into what drives her.
"This has pushed me far further than I ever thought
possible," she said. Twice she faced potentially
disastrous equipment failures, and she saw a five-day
lead at Cape Horn over Francis Joyon's round-the-world
record dwindle to nothing in the last fortnight.
While admitting there were many
more lows than highs on the voyage, MacArthur recalled
rare moments of elation, none greater than the final
night at sea. "Yesterday morning we were struggling
and it was looking like I was going to have to spend
another night with no sleep, but then just after sunset
we were visited by two helicopters, the wind picked up
and the boat just took off.
"She was tuned so
perfectly, there were stars in the sky and we were
flying towards the finish line. I remember two things
especially. First I smelled the land for the first time,
which is strange after so long, and the second is the
sight of that light at Ushant, flashing on the horizon.
I thought, that means land, that means Europe, that
means home. It was the first time I truly relaxed."
MacArthur was joined by Sir
Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to complete a solo
circumnavigation back in 1969. While MacArthur's
progress was relayed to the world via conference calls
and sustained by freeze-dried food, he was without human
contact for 312 days and lived largely on bully beef and
He was unstinting in his
praise, however. "Today this little slip of a thing
has come charging back, having taken a day and a third
off the record. It is a quite amazing achievement and I
think, Ellen, we are all immensely proud of you."
For MacArthur's parents the
overwhelming emotion was relief, though both had their
singular observations on her unique choice of career.
"I would like to know where the madness comes
from," said Mr MacArthur. His wife managed to
combine technical knowhow with emotional understatement.
"I've never been particularly keen on multihulls,"
showers the champagne
ELLEN MACARTHUR SOLO ROUND THE WORLD - NEW SOLO
Ushant-Equator 8d 18h 20m 7/12/04 0230GMT (taking 14h 3m
off Joyon's time)
Ushant-Cape of Good Hope 19d 9h 46m 17/12/04 1756GMT
(taking 10h 45m off Joyon's time)
Ushant-Cape Leeuwin 29d 14h 5m 27/12/04 2215GMT (taking
17h 24m off Joyon's time)
Ushant-Cape Horn 44d 23h 36m 12/1/04 0746GMT (taking 4
days 2h 45m off Joyon's time)
Ushant-Equator 60d 13h 35m 27/1/05 2145GMT (taking 1d
10h 50m off Joyon's time)
Equator-Equator record of 51 days, 19 hours and 15
signed Limited Edition Print now available - click picture for
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sails into record books
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Observer Profile: Ellen MacArthur
storms her way to date with history
Lull ties MacArthur in knots
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