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  Sunday, 11 February, 2001, 19:45 GMT
MacArthur re-writes sailing history
Ellen MacArthur
Ellen MacArthur celebrates with her mother Avril
British yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur has sailed into the record books after completing the Vendee Globe solo round-the-world race.

MacArthur steered her patched-up Kingfisher vessel into the harbour at Les Sables-d'Olonne at 8.36pm local time (1936 GMT) where huge crowds greeted her.

She became the youngest competitor to ever finish the race, the fastest woman around the globe and only the second person to go round-the-world solo in under 100 days.

  MacArthur's records:
The youngest Vendee finisher
The fastest woman around the globe
The second solo sailor to go round the world in less than 100 days

MacArthur thrust her fist into the air, after what has been a gruelling three months, and was joined on board by her father Ken who embraced her.

Problems had dogged the 24-year-old right up to the last. On Saturday she was forced to fix a faulty navigation light.

Clearly delighted to be reunited with her family and friends, she said: "I started the race on 9 November with one objective - finishing.

"I still can't believe that I managed to get second place, but my thoughts and prayers go out to those competitors who are still at sea.

Ellen MacArthur onboard Kingfisher
MacArthur heads for port on Sunday
"It is extremely tough, and I am relieved that I won't have to make any tactical decisions for a while."

She added: "I'm amazed at the encouragement and support that I've received from the public - and I can't ever begin to tell you how much difference it made to receive all their e-mails."

There was a surprise in store for MacArthur upon her arrival in France.

The boat Iduna, in which she sailed around Britain in at the age of 17, had been re-launched at Les Sables-d'Olonne after being laid up at her home in Derbyshire.

MacArthur came second behind French winner Michel Desjoyeaux, who received a hero's welcome when he completed the 25,000-nautical mile journey on Saturday.


This is a fantastic achievement for Ellen and a huge boost for British sport
Sports Minister
Kate Hoey

His time of 93 days three hours 57 minutes 32 seconds was a new record.

A Royal Navy helicopter took MacArthur's parents, Avril and Ken, and brother Fergus to fly over Kingfisher in a trip arranged by the British embassy in Paris.

Sports Minister Kate Hoey added: "This is a fantastic achievement for Ellen and a huge boost for British sport. The whole country salutes her bravery and her skill."

During the race, MacArthur captured hearts around the world with her courage and determination to succeed in sailing a boat that would normally have a crew of 12.

MacArthur was unfancied even to finish the tough race - but at one point she briefly led the eventual winner Michel Desjoyeaux for one day, before damage to her 60 ft vessel saw her challenge fade in the final 1,500 miles.

She will collect 40,000 in prize money for her achievement.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Ellen MacArthur
"It was the most amazing experience of my life"
The BBC's Jon Sopel in Les Sables D'Olonne
"The youngest and fastest woman to sail solo round the world"
The BBC's Alastair Leithead
looks back at the high's and low's of the 24-year-old's adventure
Ellen MacArthur in the Vendee Globe race

Home-coming heroine

Race news

Background

PHOTO GALLERIES

AUDIO/VIDEO

SPORTSTALK
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