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Last Updated: Monday, 7 February, 2005, 23:05 GMT
Ellen MacArthur profile
Ellen MacArthur on her new trimaran
2005: Smashes Francis Joyon's solo round-the-world record
2004: Misses out on west-east transatlantic record in new trimaran B&Q by 75 minutes
2003: Fails in Jules Verne round-the-world record bid when mast breaks
2002: Awarded MBE; Wins Route du Rhum in record time
2001: 2nd Vendee Globe solo around-the-world race
2000: 1st Europe1 New Man STAR transatlantic race
1999: BT/JYA Yachtsman of the Year
1997: 17th in Mini Transat solo transatlantic race
1995: Sails around Britain alone on 21ft yacht.
Born: 8 July, 1976 in Derbyshire, England
Ellen MacArthur not only sailed into the record books in February 2001 by becoming the youngest person and fastest woman to sail around the world alone.

She also single-handedly blew apart the view that sailing is a rich man's dalliance, and brought the sport alive for millions of British landlubbers.

Few outside sailing circles batted an eyelid at her departure in the Vendee Globe.

But by late January, by which time she was challenging for the lead and had also nobly changed course to assist a fellow competitor in distress, she was headline news.

The fact she finished second in no way detracted from her achievement in completing arguably the world's toughest solo round-the-world race.

She was only the second Briton to have finished the race in its 16-year history.

Ellen has been captivated by the sea from the age of eight when she was taken dinghy sailing on the east coast of England by an aunt.

As a schoolgirl in landlocked Derbyshire, she spent all her spare time reading about sailing and after three years had saved up enough dinner money to buy a small dinghy.

A slightly bigger dinghy followed before in 1995, aged 18, she sailed single-handed round Britain in her 21-foot yacht Iduna.

The feat was largely ignored by a media which for an island nation is strangely unmoved by yachting as a serious sport.

That year she was voted British Young Sailor of the Year and became the youngest person to pass the Yachtmaster Offshore Qualification.

But hard times followed, and she sent 2,500 letters to potential sponsors with only two bothering to reply.

Ellen MacArthur
MacArthur exploded onto the world stage with 2nd in the Vendee Globe

Instead she turned to France, and in 1997, as an unknown 20-year-old, she hopped on a cross-channel ferry and bought Le Poisson, a 21ft yacht.

She refitted the boat in a French boatyard, camping next to it and learning French out of necessity.

MacArthur then sailed it 3,000 miles across the Atlantic in the Mini Transat solo race in just 33 days, finishing 17th, and the French public were hooked.

The international sailing world was also listening and MacArthur secured sponsorship from the giant retail group Kingfisher, who funded her move to an Open 50 yacht which she entered in the gruelling Route du Rhum race in 1998.

She won her class and came fifth overall - a performance which led to her being named BT/JYA Yachtsman of the Year.

Kingfisher 2 limped to Perth under jury rig. Photo: Team Kingfisher
Kingfisher 2 lost its mast during the 2003 Jules Verne attempt

Kingfisher were impressed and backed her to the tune of 2 million to enter the 2000/01 Vendee Globe with a brand new Open 60 boat - known as Kingfisher.

In her first race, the prestigious Europe1 New Man STAR single-handed transatlantic race, she came first in the mono-hull class.

And in 2000 she set off to make history in the Vendee Globe itself, finishing second after 94 days, eight hours, 22 minutes alone in some of the most terrifying seas on earth.

In November 2002, MacArthur raced Kingfisher for the last time, once again in the gruelling Route du Rhum and won in a record time.

She then switched full time into multi-hulls, first two-handed with Frenchman Alain Gautier, and then fully-crewed in a failed attempt on the Jules Verne round-the-world record in 2003.

The bid was scuppered when her giant catamaran Kingfisher 2 was dismasted in the southern Indian ocean.

Which brings us to the latest, and most glorious, chapter in MacArthur's story. Her successful assault on Francis Joyon's solo, non-stop, round-the-world record.

After sailing more than 27,000 miles in less than 72 days, MacArthur's place in sailing history is assured.

The only question now is what next for the Derbyshire dynamo?

MacArthur hails solo feat
03 Feb 04 |  Other Sport
MacArthur record bid fails
29 Jun 04 |  Other Sport
MacArthur unveils new boat
08 Jan 04 |  Photo Galleries

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