|INTRO | REVIEW BY SPORT | GALLERY | VOTE | LEGENDS REMEMBERED | 2002 CALENDAR|
By Alex Trickett
If yachting medals charmed the British public in the Olympic year of 2000, the single-handed exploits of one intrepid woman did even more to enhance sailing’s popularity in 2001.
Ellen MacArthur made waves at sea and in the papers to earn an MBE and the title of Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year, while finishing runner-up at the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year show.
The awards were well deserved.
At 25, she has breathed new life into a sport that lacks global stars.
And, during February’s Vendee Globe race, she proved that determination and spirit can go a very long way.
MacArthur came second in that gruelling race - a solo voyage around the world - but went on to win ocean sailing’s world championship.
In the Laser Class, Brazil’s Robert Scheidt stretched his dominance by winning a fifth championship in seven years.
And American millionaire Steve Fossett broke speed records for Atlantic and Channel crossings.
England’s south coast had a busy summer, hosting the Fastnet, Cowes Week and the start of the first Volvo Ocean Race.
Continuing the traditions of the Whitbread, Volvo’s fleet is plotting its dangerous nine-month course to far-flung ports and is due to finish in Kiel in June, 2002.
On a tragic note, Sir Peter Blake’s murder by pirates on the Amazon River plunged the entire sailing community into mourning on 6 December.
Twice an America’s Cup winner with New Zealand, Blake was one of the sport’s leading lights and his loss will be keenly felt in the build-up to the 2003 event.
GBR Challenge - Great Britain’s first America’s Cup entry since 1987 - is one of 10 teams bidding for the right to challenge New Zealand and will unveil its new boat in April.