10 Things You Didn’t Know About Dame Ellen MacArthur

Here is an opportunity to delve into the life and career of a woman who reigns supreme over the sailing world. A symbol of determination, strength, and accomplishment, Dame Ellen MacArthur is a world-renowned British yachtswoman, who has broken several world sailing records. Despite her fame, there are many aspects of her life and career that still remain a mystery to most. Discover astounding and less known facts about this legendary sailing queen.

1. She Developed her Passion for Sailing as a Child

Dame Ellen MacArthur’s enchantment with the sea began at a very young age. Born on July 8, 1976, in Derbyshire, England, MacArthur grew up far from the sea. Yet, she was drawn towards sailing from the age of four, when she first went sailing with her aunt on the east coast of England.

Her passion for sailing was not a fleeting childhood interest. At the young age of 17, MacArthur began her career in sailing. She saved her school lunch money to buy her first boat, an ambitious feat that speaks volumes about her determination even at a young age.

2. She is the Fastest Woman to Navigate the Globe Solo

The pinnacle of MacArthur’s career came in 2005 when she broke the world record for fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe. On board her trimaran, B&Q/Castorama, she covered more than 27,000 nautical miles in just over 71 days, shattering the previous record of a solo non-stop round-the-world trip.

Her record-breaking journey was a show of endurance and skill. Weathering adverse conditions of high winds and treacherous waters, MacArthur successfully navigated the globe, marking herself as one of the most accomplished sailors in history.

3. She Announced her Retirement From Professional Sailing Unexpectedly

In a surprising move, MacArthur decided to retire from professional sailing at the age of 34. She stated that her decision was driven by a growing concern for the environment, which she had become more aware of during her many solitary journeys at sea.

Instead of chasing more sailing records, MacArthur chose to dedicate her life to environmental activism. She founded the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2010, aiming to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

4. She is a Pioneer in Environmental Sustainability

MacArthur didn’t just leave sailing behind; she has been actively working towards environmental sustainability since her retirement. Through her Foundation, she has initiated various programs promoting “circular economy” – an economic system that seeks to design out waste and keep materials and products in use for longer.

Her dedication to environmental sustainability extends beyond her Foundation too. She uses her influence to encourage changes in policy and business models, participating in global conferences and discussions to highlight the impact of resource consumption on our planet.

5. She is a Best-Selling Author

Beyond sailing and environmental activism, MacArthur is also a best-selling author. Her autobiography, “Taking on the World”, details her experiences as the fastest woman to navigate the globe solo.

The inspirational book, first published in 2002, provides an intimate look into MacArthur’s mind, revealing her determination and the courage it took to achieve her sailing dreams. The book offers invaluable insights and is a must-read for anyone seeking to challenge personal and professional boundaries.

6. She is a Dame

Fulfilling a British tradition, MacArthur was honoured with the title of ‘Dame’ by Queen Elizabeth II in 2005. This is the female equivalent of ‘knighthood’ and is conferred as a recognition of significant achievements.

This prestigious title was bestowed upon MacArthur following her world record of fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe. Her determination and resilience as a sailor and her subsequent commitment to environmental sustainability make her a well-deserving recipient of the title.

7. She Ran a Sailing Charity for Young People

MacArthur launched ‘The Ellen MacArthur Trust’ in 2003 – a charity organization aimed at using sailing to help young people between the ages of 8 and 24 recover from cancer and leukemia.

The charity took young people out sailing to regenerate their confidence and independence after going through the trauma of long-term illness and treatment. MacArthur’s dedication to giving back is a testament to her empathy and selflessness.

8. Her First Boat was Named “Threepenny Bit”

Showing off her childhood creativity, MacArthur named her first boat, an 8-foot dinghy, Threepenny Bit. She had saved up her school lunch money to buy it, showing her determination to sail from a very young age. The name referenced the money she had saved to purchase it and her unique approach to achieving her dreams.

9. She Has An Asteroid Named After Her

As a testament to her global influence and accomplishment, an asteroid has been named after MacArthur – Asteroid 20034 Ellenmacarthur. Discovered by Mt. Lemmon Survey on November 13, 1998, the asteroid orbits the sun every 3.5 years.

10. She Has Received Numerous Honorary Degrees

In recognition of her achievements and contributions, MacArthur has been awarded several honorary degrees from multiple universities. These include the University of Derby, Southampton Solent University, and Cranfield University.

Dame Ellen MacArthur is truly an extraordinary person whose life and achievements extend far beyond her professional sailing career. Her determination, philanthropy, and commitment to environmental sustainability make her a truly unique and influential figure.

For more information on Dame Ellen MacArthur, check these useful resources:

Dame Ellen MacArthur’s Official Website
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation
The Ellen MacArthur Trust