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Sailing faster than the wind, Ellen MacArthur is only days from triumph or tragedy


People who have been sailing with Ellen MacArthur say she bounces around the boat like Zebedee, or a sparrow.

She is 5ft 2in, but pure energy, jumping to her tasks like a boxer, insatiably restless, persistently needing to adjust the trim, change the sails, put in another reef, take it out, unfurl the bigger jib, hoist the huge lightweight headsail called the Code Zero, bring it in again, change course and, in any other way she might think of, apply herself to the job in hand, which is, at the moment, sailing around the world on her own, faster than anyone before.

You might think circumnavigating the world in a boat is occasionally frightening, often boring, very lonely, dominated by the sort of metaphysical experiences of isolation which we all imagine we would feel in these circumstances. That may have been the case in the old days. In 1968-69 Robin Knox-Johnston was the first man to sail around the world alone non-stop, taking 313 days at an average speed of 3.39 knots, just about walking pace.   more...


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