by Geeta Malik
|Acres of water spread out in every direction; |
icebergs lay in wait under the surface of the
freezing ocean. Later, the sun would become
blinding and the wind would tear through Ellen
MacArthur's sails as she pushed forward alone,
near Antarctica, in her Kingfisher boat. She
would have to make numerous back-breaking
repairs, facing battering weather and harsh
conditions. The food was freeze-dried, her water
rationed, and her naptimes often limited to twenty
minutes in 24 hours. Physical, mental and emotional
exhaustion were only a few of the obstacles she
faced on her odyssey around the world.
A year ago, Ellen MacArthur competed in the prestigious Vendee
Globe 2000, a sailing race that takes a round-the-world tour of
rough seas and debilitating conditions. At the age of 24, being one
of two women in the race, Ellen was facing all the odds. She came
in second place, making history with her strength and determination.
Ever since she was a little girl, Ellen knew she wanted to sail. She
fought hard for sponsorships and saved her money to buy boats
and equipment. When she began the Vendee Globe race as the
youngest person and also the smallest in stature (at 5'2), Ellen's
goal was simply to place in the top five. At one point, her sail
tore and she had to shimmy up the 90-foot mast in stormy weather
to repair it; another time, her boat hit a solid object floating in the
water and the daggerboard broke. The daggerboard, many times
Ellen's size and weight, had to be hauled on deck and replaced.
Ellen lost her lead at this point, but soon returned to second place
with barely a hitch.
Ellen ended the Vendee Globe
race after 94 days alone at sea.
She broke records by being
both the youngest solo sailor and
completing the fastest non-stop
circumnavigation of the
globe by a woman.