Ellen MacArthur enters the record books
Ellen MacArthur - now Dame Ellen, the youngest Dame Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire - sailed into the record books this week by beating Francis Joyon's recent record for circumnavigation time.
In 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds, Ellen reduced the previous record by one day, eight hours, 35 minutes and 49 seconds.
A flotilla of boats, including HMS Severn, which had supported her across the 'finishing line' welcomed her to Falmouth. She suffered major setbacks on the voyage - from having to make her own repairs to the generator, to climbing the mast in the middle of the ocean to enable her to hoist the sails. But she also achieved a host of records - fastest to the equator, to pass the Cape of Good Hope, to Cape Leeuwin and to round the Horn, and also fastest to cross back to the Equator.
Her speech from the stage of the National Maritime Museum was to 'enjoy success' she said in a country that was too quick to celebrate bad news, and she was pleased to see so many people present wanting to share in that success.
She had had to 'dig deep' again and again during her voyage to cope with the extremes of weather, the loneliness and the various mechanical problems, but also enjoyed some wonderful moments of sailing as well. The B&Q / Castorama name on the trimaran has netted millions of pounds of 'free' advertising for the two companies, and other advertisers such as Renault are already showing new adverts with Ellen 'safe back on dry land'.
Seven years ago Ellen MacArthur approached B&Q for the first sponsorship for entry into the Route du Rhum, and since then she has worked constantly to improve her knowledge of all aspects of sailing, and taken part in many events, including second place in the Vendee Globe Race four years ago.
Congratulation to Ellen for her single minded determination and we await her inevitable future achievements with interest. For the moment however, she will be enjoying the luxury of the company of family and friends after her many days alone.