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Thursday, 1 March, 2001, 17:47 GMT
Sailing through Heaven and Hell
Ellen MacArthur
Woman of the waves: Ellen MacArthur
Sailing through Heaven and Hell, a documentary chronicling Ellen MacArthur's record-breaking round-the-world journey, was shown on BBC1 on Thursday 1 March.

  • real 56k Click here to watch the introduction to Ellen MacArthur's epic journey.

  • real 56k Click here to watch Ellen's last interview before sailing off into the unknown.

  • real 56k Click here to see how Ellen copes with the first days at sea.

  • real 56k Click here to watch Ellen navigate the tempestuous Southern seas.

  • real 56k Click here to watch Ellen's dramatic mast repair.

  • real 56k Click here to see Ellen return home to a hero's welcome.

    The true magnitude of what Ellen MacArthur achieved in completing the Vendee Globe round-the-world yacht race was revealed in this enthralling documentary.

    The story was told with the help of four fixed cameras on board Ellen's boat Kingfisher, plus two waterproof handheld ones and one fixed to her waterproof helmet.

    And it revealed the emotional rollercoaster that the 24-year-old went through on her 94-day expedition, including celebrating Christmas alone.

    There were interviews from both before and after the race, but the most gripping action was naturally from on board the boat itself.

    Even at her darkest moments, MacArthur confided in the camera.

    The Kingfisher
    Ellen's yacht Kingfisher
    "In a way you almost feel that it's not worth trying to explain things, because unless you are actually here no one will understand. But I really want to share this," she said.

    You certainly realise the danger of the situation in which she found herself in the Southern Ocean when she awoke to see an iceberg passing the side of the boat.

    "If Kingfisher were to hit an iceberg at 15 knots she'd almost certainly be de-masted, pretty likely rip the keel off and would be likely to turn upside down," said a relieved MacArthur.

    But perhaps the footage that will grab your attention most and only increase your admiration for the Derbyshire girl is the sight of her struggling up the 90ft mast in atrocious conditions.

    A sobbing Ellen admitted: "I've had enough and it's so hard."

    By the end of the race she was torn in two directions.

    On one hand wanting to finish and be reunited with friends and family, and the other not wanting the race to end.

    The boat had become her home and her world and while this programme may not leave you wanting to follow in her footsteps it does highlight how dreams can be realised.

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