Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ellen Patricia MacArthur, MBE (born July 8, 1976) is a British sailor from Whatstandwell near Matlock in Derbyshire, now based in Cowes, Isle of Wight. She is best known as a solo long-distance yachtswoman who, on February 7, 2005, broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe.
She acquired her early interest in sailing by reading Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons books and is the Patron of the Nancy Blackett Trust which owns and operates Ransome's yacht, Nancy Blackett.
She first came to general prominence in 2001 when she came second in the Vendee Globe solo round-the-world sailing race in her boat Kingfisher (named after her sponsors, Kingfisher plc), and subsequently MacArthur was awarded an MBE for services to sport.
Her latest yacht, called B&Q/Castorama (after two companies in the Kingfisher group) and unveiled in January 2004, was specially designed by Nigel Irens and Benoit Cabaret for her to break solo records. The 75-foot (23-metre) trimaran was built in Australia, with many of the components specifically arranged to take into account MacArthur's 5 foot 2 inch (1.57 metre) height.
Using the yacht, her first significant record attempt in 2004 to break the west–east transatlantic crossing time failed by around one and a quarter hours, after over seven days of sailing.
She began her attempt to break the solo record for sailing non-stop around the world on November 28, 2004. During her circumnavigation, she set records for the fastest solo voyage to the equator, past the Cape of Good Hope, past Cape Horn and back to the equator again. She crossed the finishing line near the French coast at Ushant at 2229 UTC on February 7, 2005 beating the previous record set by French sailor Francis Joyon by 1 day, 8 hours, 35 minutes, 49 seconds.
On her return to the UK on February 8, 2005, it was announced that she was to be appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of that achievement, becoming, it is believed, the youngest ever recipient of this honour. Coming immediately as it did (rather than appearing in due course in the New Year's or Birthday honours lists), this recognition was reminiscent of the knighthoods conferred upon Sir Francis Drake and Sir Francis Chichester upon arrival home after their respective circumnavigations in 1580 and 1967. MacArthur was also made an honorary Lieutenant Commander of the Royal Naval Reserve on the same day.
- Ellen MacArthur Website
- Official timekeeper details of record
- Ellen MacArthur Trust Website - The Trust's aim is to support, empower and enliven children suffering from cancer or leukaemia by introducing them to the joys of sailing on the sea.
- BBC News article: MacArthur sails into record books
- WSSRC - World Sailing Speed Record Council
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