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The Incredible Story Of The Fastest Woman To Sail Around The Globe Solo
The Vendee Globe around-the-world sailboat race is sailing's ultimate challenge and the pinnacle of extreme sports--a single handed, nonstop race including 13,000 miles through the planet's most dangerous waters: the Southern Ocean that encircles Antarctica. Small wonder that fewer than half the boats that start a Vendee Globe race can finish it. Of those who don't, the luckier drop out; the rest are claimed by the sea.
At 5 feet 2 inches tall and age 24, Ellen MacArthur was the smallest and youngest competitor in the 2000-01 Vendee Globe and one of just a handful of women ever to have attempted it. In an event dominated by older men of the elite French long-distance racing fraternity, she was a long shot even to finish. Yet on February 11, 2001, she finished second, and became the youngest sailor to complete the race, the first woman to earn a top-three placing, the fastest woman ever to sail around the world, and the second fastest person ever to do so alone.
Her time of 94 days 4 hours 25 minutes shaved 11 days from the previous record. On the day Ellen reached the finish line off the French resort town of Les Sables d'Olonne, an estimated 200,000 people turned out to greet her, and her race website received 4.5 million hits. Her reception, and the media coverage, eclipsed that accorded the winner--the Frenchman Michel Desjoyeaux--the day before. Ellen's accomplishment transcended national boundaries.