Profile Born in Whatstandwell (no, it’s a real name…) in Derbyshire, United Kingdom, Ellen MacArthur was one of the most famous solo log-distance yachtswomen, who broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe.
MacArthur got interested in sailing as a child, especially by reading Arthur Ransome’s series of children’s books called “Swallows and Amazons”, which involve adventures by groups of children during vacations, especially in sailing. At the age of 13, MacArthur bought her first small boat called ”Threepenny Bit” from saved school dinner money.
At the age of 21, she participated for the first time in a solo sailing race. In the 1997 “Minitransat”, a Transatlantic sailing race, she finished 17th. She started to gain some recognition in 2001, when she finished runner-up in the “Vendée Globe”, at that time the toughest solo round-the-world sailing race.
Alas, her first record-breaking attempts failed. In 2003, she was captain on a crewed yacht, but they failed in their attempt to chase down the Jules Verne round-the-world mark for full crews as their mast broke. In 2004, she failed in her first solo record attempt, the west-east Transatlantic crossing, as she fell just 75 minutes short of the standing record.
In November 2004, MacArthur embarked on her attempt to break the solo record for sailing non-stop around the world. On 7 February 2005, she crossed the finish line near the French coast in a new world record, breaking the previous record of Francis Joyon by one day, eight hours, 35 minutes and 49 seconds. During her trip, she set records for the fastest solo race to the Equator, past the Cape of Good Hope, past Cape Horn, and back to the Equator again.
On 8 February 2005, it was announced that MacArthur was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.