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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 February, 2005, 12:46 GMT
Ellen's homecoming as it happened
Ellen MacArthur talks from her boat as she comes into Falmouth
Thousands of fans welcomed home record-breaking sailor Ellen MacArthur as she arrived in Falmouth Harbour on the last leg of her 71-day round-the-world voyage.

The 28-year-old's B&Q trimaran was accompanied back to dry land by a flotilla of hundreds of ships.

MacArthur, who will be made a Dame, remarkably found the energy to enthusiastically spray champagne over her vessel as well as delivering her trademark celebration of lighting two distress flares.


All the details from Ellen's emotional return:

1000 GMT: Light rain has started falling in Falmouth Harbour and a brass band has struck up as thousands of people wait for MacArthur's trimaran to be towed into port.

1030 GMT: Ellen's parents leave shore in a dinghy to sail out to greet their daughter and Downing Street confirms Ellen will be made a Dame.

1045 GMT: There is still lots of activity on the B&Q trimaran as it edges closer to land. The crew have already removed some of its equipment to make the vessel lighter for the approach into the harbour.

1050 GMT: Ellen's boat is still too far away to be viewed with the naked eye from the shore so, the hundreds of gathering fans - some who have waited since the middle of the night - are watching her approach on a giant screen in Event Square.

1055 GMT: Ellen looks relaxed as she sits talking on her trimaran. A growing flotilla of boats and the protective presence of the HMS Severn surround the B&Q which has about three miles left to go until it reaches the harbour.

The flotilla of ships surrounding Ellen MacArthur's trimaran
A flotilla of boats accompanied MacArthur's trimaran back to Britain

1103 GMT: In dramatic style, the sun breaks through the clouds as the B&Q sails closer to the shore. Ellen remains in high spirits as she poses for a photograph on the edge of one of the vessel's pontoons.

1110 GMT: The vast sail of the trimaran looms above the flotilla as it slows down for the final approach. There are more photographs on board - this time Ellen and her team strike poses. And there will be more public duties to perform when the 28-year-old steps ashore as she is set to give a news conference after first greeting her parents.

Ellen tells the BBC from the deck of the B&Q: "I can't believe how many people are out here watching.

"I will be sad to leave the boat but I have something inside me that tells me the relationship is not over."

1120 GMT: The B&Q is approaching Pendennis Castle, where crowds are lining the clifftop to greet her. Crouching on the edge of her boat, Ellen told the BBC she had no idea she had so much support waiting for her.

"I don't know what it will be like coming into Falmouth. I'm trying not to think about it but it's incredible."

1130 GMT: Crowds begin waving to Ellen and her accompanying flotilla as she comes clearly into view. But the B&Q might be less easy to spot now as the main sail is taken down - a task supervised by Ellen herself.

1140 GMT: Ellen's 75-foot trimaran is slowly being towed into the mouth of the harbour. The crew are busily making last-minute arrangements for the last few metres before Ellen hits dry land at Falmouth pontoon.

1145 GMT: The sound of the cheering crowd greets Ellen at last as she approaches Falmouth harbour. The 28-year-old will climb into a dinghy for the final few metres of her trip.

Meanwhile, England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has sent his greetings to Ellen: "I would like to say very well done. I met her once with the Queen and she is a very nice person. What she's done is incredible."

1147 GMT: The B&Q docks in Falmouth Harbour and Ellen - still speaking on her mobile phone - waves to the waiting crowds.

Still on her boat Ellen tells the waiting supporters: "To see you all to greet me is overwhelming. I'm so happy to be back here in Falmouth, thank you everybody."

A video grab of Ellen MacArthur's trimaran as it comes into Falmouth harbour.
MacArthur relinquishes control of the B&Q as it approaches British shores

1150 GMT: There are more emotional scenes on board as Ellen is reunited with her parents Ken and Avril.

But Ellen still finds time to convey her excitement to the surrounding media contingent... "just to be able to see them again is just fantastic," she says.

1155 GMT: Ellen performs her trademark celebration of lighting two distress flares and raising them aloft. Despite her exhausting 72-day journey, she finds still finds the energy to pour a magnum of champagne over the B&Q.

1200 GMT: Ellen clings to her mother's hands as fans begin to surround the triumphant trimaran. Her father admitted he was "relieved" to see her back on dry land while her mother praised the "fantastic boat" that had partnered her in her achievement.

1205 GMT: The 28-year-old Briton is still on board the B&Q and claims she is already thinking of her next challenge.

"What's next? Well, I don't think history with this boat is over. I can't wait to get sailing again but it would be good to sail with a few people."

1210 GMT: Ellen finally steps down from the B&Q after 71 days on board and she makes her final journey with her parents and members of her crew in a dinghy to the shore.

1215 GMT: The crowd began to cheer noisily again as Ellen makes her way up from the edge of the water onto Falmouth's pontoon. The Derbyshire-born sailor will address the assembled throng, who are packed into Event Square.

1230 GMT: An emotional Ellen is welcomed onto the stage in Falmouth Harbour by enthusiastic applause, a guard of honour and a shower of tickertape.

"The only thing to say is nothing can prepare anyone for the welcome I've received. It's extraordinary," she says.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Exclusive interview: Ellen MacArthur


Re-live Ellen MacArthur's celebrations




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