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Breakfast with Frost
Ellen MacArthur
Ellen MacArthur

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Now to another of our great sports people, Ellen MacArthur's won huge admiration for her achievements as a yacht-woman, most notably of all sailing round the world single-handed. Six weeks ago she embarked on a new challenge to break the record for a non-stop round the world trip. But the enterprise nearly ended in disaster, and certainly ended in disappointment, when her yacht's mast broke in the middle of the Indian Ocean. She and her crew limped back into the Australian port of Fremantle yesterday and now she joins me from there. Ellen good morning.

ELLEN MacARTHUR: Good morning.

DAVID FROST: Tell us exactly what happened in your own words - well of course you're going to do them in your own words, you couldn't do them in anybody else's but anyway - tell us in your own words.

ELLEN MacARTHUR: We were sailing actually just close to some islands called the Kergeluen Islands which is roughly 2000 miles from South Africa and 2000 miles from Fremantle. We were actually ahead of the record at the time and had just come through a storm and the waves had started to die down and the wind had started to die down and we took some of the reefs out of the sail and we were relatively relaxed, sailing along just after dark. And I was on the phone to our weather router - ... Strada in Germany - and all of a sudden there was a massive crunching sound and I dropped the phone and ran on deck and literally saw that the mast had fallen over the side and in that one second a record attempt that was possible turned into a record attempt that was all over.

DAVID FROST: God yes. And what about the danger, was there danger at that moment or was it just disaster in terms of the race?

ELLEN MacARTHUR: I think more so it was a disaster in terms of the safety of Kingfisher II and the record in the attempt on the record. From the crew's perspective, there were four people on watch at the time, one down below, three on deck, and the mast generally falls leeward if you have an accident so the mast fell away from the people, so there was actually no immediate danger to the people on deck. We then set about trying to cut the mast free and that was a little bit dangerous because we were running around on the trampoline in the dark trying to cut the mast free before it hits the boat and damages the boat itself. No, but that all went relatively smoothly, we had no major issues and we were constructing a jury rig for the Kingfisher II by sunrise.

DAVID FROST: And what about the feelings of the crew, your what 13 man crew, what about the feelings of the crew in these days as you came back into Australia? There must have been great disappointment and how did you keep morale up?

ELLEN MacARTHUR: I think it was hard for everybody on board, we were all out there for one purpose and that was to try and break the record. We knew there was a chance that we wouldn't make it - eight of the 11 boats that have tried to break this record haven't made it, so the chances of failure were quite high - so I think everyone kept that in the back of their minds. But obviously when Kingfisher II's rig came down that was all over, we just had to safely get to Australia. But 2000 miles was a long way to sail and I think all the guys really pulled together. We had a fantastic time in the last two weeks. We made card games, we made chess boards, backgammon boards, all sorts of things. So everyone kept themselves amused but I think all the same everyone was pleased to get here into Fremantle.

DAVID FROST: Absolutely. And what, what's your plan now, Ellen, are you going to attempt this record again, or is your next venture going to be something diffferent?

ELLEN MacARTHUR: Well we're just deciding on the future of Kingfisher II but it's very unlikely we'll be undertaking this again in the next few years. I certainly can't say I wouldn't try this again because there's certainly some unfinished business there but at the same time, you know, there is a future out there in racing and we'll announcing that at the end of this month.

DAVID FROST: Well we wish you all the well in the future and I mean everybody here was rooting for you in this particular attempt and we'll be rooting for you in your next attempt.

ELLEN MacARTHUR: Thank you.

DAVID FROST: Ellen MacArthur there.


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