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Friday, 21 February, 2003, 11:05 GMT
MacArthur romps home in Rhum
Ellen MacArthur celebrates her Route du Rhum victory
MacArthur celebrates a superb victory in Guadeloupe
Britain's Ellen MacArthur has won the Route du Rhum single-handed transatlantic race in a record-breaking time in her last competitive event on her yacht Kingfisher.

The 26-year-old crossed the finish line off the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe at 0216 GMT on Saturday after leaving the French port of St Malo 13 days ago.

MacArthur set a new record of 13 days, 13 hours, 31 minutes, 47 seconds for the passage.

Ellen MacArthur profile:
Born: 8 July, 1976 in Derbyshire, England
1995: UK Young Navigator of the Year
1998: 1st in Open 50 class in Route du Rhum. BT/YJA Yachtsman of the Year
2000: 1st Europe 1 New Man Star
2001: World champion FICO; 2nd Vendee Globe; 2nd Transat Jacques Vabre with Alain Gautier
2002: Awarded MBE

The previous best time for monohulls was 15 days, 19 hours, 23 minutes, set by Frenchman Yves Parlier on Cacolac d'Aquitaine in 1994.

MacArthur, who sailed 3968 miles at an average speed of 10.9 knots, held off countryman Mike Golding and the rest of the 12-strong 60ft monohull fleet.

She and Golding were left to duel at the head of the fleet for more than seven days after Roland Jourdain was forced to put in at Madeira with a torn mainsail.

MacArthur arrived in Pointe-a-Pitre at 2216 local time on Friday night and was greeted by an armada of small boats flashing lights.

"That was one hell of a race. The stress levels were hardly ever below maximum. I could not have given any more, the intensity has been extraordinary," said MacArthur.

"I cannot say that that was easier than a Vendee [Globe race], it has taken every ounce of mental and physical energy that I possess.

"Mike Golding sailed a fantastic race, pushed us both to our limits and beyond - I am disappointed for him, but of course elated to have to held on to the lead.

"The final miles were tense. I share this victory with the team that helped me here."

Ellen MacArthur, sailing Kingfisher, won the Route du Rhum
MacArthur and Kingfisher approaching Guadeloupe

Golding finished second at 1134 GMT on Saturday, nine hours and 17 minutes behind MacArthur.

MacArthur sprang to fame by finishing second in the 2000/2001 Vendee Globe race on Kingfisher, becoming the youngest and fastest woman to lap the planet.

In 1997, at the age of 21 she completed the Mini-Transat and a year later she won the 50ft monohull class in the Route du Rhum.

MacArthur also won the Europe 1 New Man Star in 2000 and was second in the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre last year with Alain Gautier on the multihull Foncia.

She received an MBE (Member of the British Empire) medal in last year's New Year Honours List in Britain.

Meanwhile, Frenchman Michel Desjoyeaux, who beat MacArthur in the Vendee Globe, won the Route du Rhum's 60ft multihull category.

The 37-year-old crossed the line at 2038 GMT on Saturday, completing the course in 13 days, seven hours, and 53 minutes.

Desjoyeaux was one of only three remaining competitors in the category. Of the 18 big multihulls that started, 15 were forced to withdraw because of rough winds.

Several capsized, although no one was seriously injured.

Ellen MacArthur is sailing solo again, this time bound for Guadeloupe

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Ellen's logbook

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