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|Tuesday, 8th February, 2005
Congratulations Ellen MacArthur
Solo round-the-world yachtswomen Ellen MacArthur can expect a triumphant return home after her 27,000 mile adventure.
Thousands of spectators witnessed Ellen return to Britain in Falmouth dock on Tuesday 8th February.
Ellen had been at sea for 71 days as she attempted to beat the non-stop solo round-the-world sailing record on her 75 foot multihull B&Q. She crossed the finishing line which was an 80 mile stretch of water between Lizard Point (South West of England) and Ushant (North West of France) at 22:29:17GMT on the 7th February 2005 beating the existing record set by French yachtsman Francis Joyon which was 0704GMT on the 9th February 2004.
It has been a pretty rough few months for Ellen who has suffered a head injury and a burnt hand as well as negotiating her way around a whale close to the finish.
In the final few weeks, she had said she was exhausted and fatigued, which is not surprising because on average she probably slept less than five hour a day.
She was lucky enough not to experience the same kind of bad luck that fellow colleague Mike Golding suffered in the Vendee Globe race when his keel broke on the last day.
As well as thousands of spectators, 24 TV and radio trucks were on site at Falmouth to cover her home coming and make it a day to remember.
She had been in regular contact with her project and business manager Mark Turner, who has confessed that in his calls to Ellen her voice had become increasingly more weary and difficult to hear in the later stages. However, speaking the Today programme on Monday morning, he felt that the record was still very much on, even though her progress had slowed down. At one stage, three weeks ago, Ellen was five days ahead of schedule but problems in the southern ocean meant that she fell behind schedule 10 days later.
BBC sailing commentator Richard Simmons, also speaking on the Today programme on Monday, said that Ellen would not have been disappointed if she hadn't broken the record by a big margin and would be quite happy to break it by minutes following the problems she had.
But Ellen, who in the final few hundred miles of her voyage on Monday, had said she was quietly confident of breaking the record,
"There is definitely a chance to break the record," said MacArthur, who at that time, was predicted to finish around midnight.
A giant screen depicting Ellen's previous voyages with a giant clock ticking down the hour's minutes and seconds that she had left to Wednesday morning's deadline had been set up at the docks in Falmouth - it now reads 71 days 14 hours18 minutes 33 seconds.
As she crossed the line last on Monday night at around 2230, her support crew and a doctor climbed on board to take over at the helm and give her a medical check-up.
As the boat sailed towards Falmouth, Ellen got her head down and had a well earned rest, getting around five hours sleep - which is more than she had got in any one night for weeks.
The Queen and Tony Blair have both sent their congratulations to her and Ellen said of her record,
"The whole voyage has been very draining, and there's a lot of things going round in my head."
"But it's great that I can finally switch my brain off and relax in the company of others, which I've really missed."
When Francis Joyon heard that Ellen had broken his record he said,
"I always said that Ellen was a serious customer and she has justified that in the fastest possible time.
"I thought my record could be broken but I never imagined that Ellen would beat it so quickly and so effectively."
MacArthur chased Joyon's record with a boat that is smaller, and therefore slower than his, although its lighter weight helps counterbalance that disadvantage. This boat was specifically designed and built for Ellen to get the most out of it but it is questionable whether she was expecting the boat to take everything out of her!
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