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Smell of land greets sailor after trip around the world
Published February 9, 2005
For 71 days Ellen MacArthur was alone at sea, no visitors but a fly-by from an albatross and close encounter with a whale.
After passing the finish mark late Monday to set the record for fastest solo circumnavigation of the earth, she sailed home to Falmouth, England, on Tuesday in triumph, a royal title - Dame Ellen - awaiting as well as 8,000 fans. The Englishwoman sprayed champagne, hugged her parents and touched land for the first time after leaping from her 75-foot boat. "There were some times out there that were excruciatingly difficult," said MacArthur, 28, her voice cracking as she fought back tears. "I have never in my life had to dig as deep as I did in this trip, and not just once or twice, but over consecutive weeks. ... There were more lows than highs, no doubt about it. I'm not going to hide that. It is exceptionally difficult to communicate how tough this was." The 5-foot-3 sailor completed the 26,000-mile journey in 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes, 33 seconds, beating the record by a day. What stood out? Two things, she said: seeing a lighthouse in France after seeing no land for weeks, and the smell of the shore. "It's funny when you smell the land and you have not smelled it for two months."