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On This Day: Ellen MacArthur breaks round-the-world record

The Derbyshire-born sailor was honoured by the queen soon after returning home.

Dame Ellen MacArthur smashed the record for the fastest single-handed circumnavigation of the world on this day in 2005.

MacArthur, 28, completed her 27,354-mile odyssey in 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds.

With an average speed on the water of 15.9 knots, she beat the previous record set by Frenchman Francis Joyon by more than a day.

MacArthur's epic voyage was incident-packed
MacArthur's epic voyage was incident-packed (PA Archive)

It was an astounding achievement given that many in sailing had predicted Joyon's mark, set in just 2004, would last many years. Joyon had taken more than 20 days off the previous record in completing his journey in 72 days, 22 hours, 54 minutes and 22 seconds.

MacArthur, from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, set out on November 28, 2004 in her 75ft trimaran called B&Q/Castorama. She crossed the finish line off Ushant, France, at 10.25pm on February 7, 2005.

During an incident-packed voyage she narrowly avoided colliding with a whale, suffered burns to her arm and was battered and bruised after climbing the 90ft mast to carry out repairs. She also had to battle gales and icebergs in the southern ocean, deal with light winds in the Atlantic and cope with a host of other technical problems.

Despite that she managed to stay ahead of Joyon's time for the vast majority of her adventure. She also collected another five records on the way, beating Joyon's time to the Equator, the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin in Australia, Cape Horn and back to the Equator.

MacArthur's achievement was recognised with a damehood
MacArthur's achievement was recognised with a damehood (PA Archive)

"I am elated, I am absolutely drained, it has been a very tough trip," MacArthur said. "When I crossed the line I felt like collapsing on the floor and just falling asleep. I was absolutely over the moon."

MacArthur, originally from Derbyshire, was made a Dame of the British Empire soon after her completing her quest.

Her record stood for almost three years before being reclaimed by Joyon. He took another 14 days off the time, finishing in 57 days, 13 hours and 34 minutes.

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British round-the-world sailor Alex Thomson puts his yacht Hugo Boss through its paces, reaching speeds of nearly 30 knots, in the Solent, off the south coast of England, Britain August 9, 2018
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Today's Olympic highlights header

Monday's key events

· There are no Brits in the women's 100m hurdles final, but Puerto Rico's Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, fresh from breaking the Olympic record in the semis, will hope to pip world record holder Kendra Harrison to gold (3.50am)
· The women's 5000m final also has no Team GB representation, but two-time world champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya will be looking to add an Olympic gold to her list of honours (1.40pm)

· The women's skiff 49er FX (6.33am) and men's skiff 49er (7.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races

· A place in the women's gold medal match is up for grabs, starting with an all-North American semi-final between United States and Canada (9am)
· Australia, who edged past Team GB's in a seven-goal quarter-final thriller, take on Sweden in the second semi-final (12pm)

· The track cycling schedule gets underway, with Team GB holding a particular interest in the team pursuit qualifying. Laura Kenny is part of the women's team (7.54am), while the men's team includes Ed Clancy (9.02am)

· The Gadirova twins Jessica and Jennifer will both take part in the women's floor final as they look to add to their team bronze (9.57am)

· Newly-crowned European champion Emily Campbell flies the flag for Great Britain in the women's +87kg, but faces stiff competition for medals from China's Li Wenwen and New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard (11.50am)

· The women's hockey quarter-finals begin, with Team GB last up against Spain (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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