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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 February, 2005, 07:30 GMT
MacArthur sails into record books

Ellen MacArthur
Ellen's new record:
71 days 14hrs 18mins 33secs
Britain's Ellen MacArthur has completed her single-handed round-the-world voyage in record-breaking time.

She crossed the finish line at 2229 GMT on Monday, beating the previous mark set by Francis Joyon of 72 days, 22 hours, 54 mins and 22 secs.

The Isle of Wight-based yachtswoman completed the 27,000-mile voyage in 71 days and under 15 hours.

After achieving the record time, MacArthur said: "I feel exhausted but I'm elated to be here."

She added: "It has been an unbelievable journey.

"The whole voyage has been very draining, and there's a lot of things going round in my head.

"But it's great that I can finally switch my brain off and relax in the company of others, which I've really missed."

MacArthur's back-up team celebrate as she crosses the finish line

The 28-year-old added: "I always believed I could break the record, and Francis agreed it was breakable. But I really didn't think I would do it at the first attempt.

"The whole south Atlantic was terrible and it has just been one big draining event from there onwards.

"When I crossed the line I felt like collapsing on the floor and just falling asleep. I was absolutely over the moon."

Her shore team were waiting to greet her on the navy patrol vessel HMS Severn, which will escort her B&Q trimaran into British water.

MacArthur's project director Mark Turner admitted: "We thought it would be pretty hard - in fact, we thought we might have to have two or three goes at it.

"I'm glad we did it the first time - I'm not sure we could deal with doing it second time.

It was hard the whole time - there were very few moments of relaxation
Mark Turner
Team Ellen project manager

"It was hard the whole time - there were very few moments of relaxation."

Turner also revealed the exhausted MacArthur would be relieved by a crew who will take over sailing her B&Q trimaran into Falmouth.

MacArthur lost ground on Sunday and was only able to edge B&Q another 30 miles closer to the finish near Ushant off the French coast.

However, the Derbyshire-born sailor was buoyed by stronger winds on Monday, which carried her forward on record-breaking schedule.

When MacArthur set sail on 28 November, she was under no illusions as to the scale of the task that lay ahead of her.

Joyon's achievement in February 2004 raised the bar in round-the-world sailing.

1976: Born 8 July, Derbyshire
1995: Sails around GB alone
1997: 17th in transatlantic race
1998: Wins Open 50 class, Route du Rhum
1999: JYA Yachtsman of Year
2000: 1st in Europe1 New Man STAR transatlantic race
2001: 2nd in Vendee Globe; 2nd in Transat Jacques Vabre with Alain Gautier; FICO world offshore champion
2002: Awarded MBE; Wins Route du Rhum in new record
2003: Broken mast ends Jules Verne round-the-world bid
2004: Misses out on west-east transatlantic record by 75mins
2005: Fastest solo circumnavigation of globe

The Frenchman smashed the previous record by a massive 20 days and it was widely believed in the sailing world that his mark would go unchallenged for several years.

MacArthur chased Joyon's record with a boat that is smaller, and therefore slower than his, although its lighter weight helps counterbalance that disadvantage.

However, the 75ft vessel she has guided across more than 27,000 miles was specially built with this task in mind.

And MacArthur is no newcomer to round-the-world sailing despite growing up in landlocked Derbyshire.

She first came to prominence when she finished second in the Vendee Globe round-the-world race in 2001.

Feted by French fans of the Vendee, her achievement caught the imagination in Britain and MacArthur finished as runner-up to David Beckham in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.

MacArthur won the gruelling Route du Rhum race the following year before setting her sights on breaking more records in multi-hulls.

However, she failed in an attempt to chase down the Jules Verne round-the-world mark for full crews in 2003, as well as a tilt at the solo transatlantic record.

MacArthur has had to contend with extreme weather conditions and technical problems in her bid to better Joyon.

Ellen MacArthur on board the B & Q, just west of the Bay of Biscay

Mountainous seas, icebergs and gale force winds have threatened to capsize her boat - and she narrowly missed a collision with a whale on day 63.

MacArthur burnt her arm trying to stop fumes and heat leaking into her cabin early on in the race and suffered bad bruising after scaling the mast to make repairs on the return Atlantic leg.

She had lost ground since being five days up on Joyon's record when she rounded the tip of South America.

But before she had even finished she had already broken five records on the trip - beating Joyon's times to the Equator, the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin in Australia, Cape Horn and back again to the Equator.

Report: BBC News' James Munro

Watch the moment Ellen MacArthur broke the record

Hear Ellen MacArthur's first interview

Joyon smashes sailing mark
03 Feb 04 |  Other Sport

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