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The Vendée Globe is the toughest challenge the world's oceans have to offer: 100 days alone at sea, circumnavigating the globe. Ellen MacArthur captured the public’s attention as she battled against the elements and equipment failures during her gruelling 94 day voyage. Since becoming the fastest solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe, she has founded the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, world leaders in the field of bringing the ideas behind the circular economy to life.
The Vendée Globe is the toughest challenge the oceans have to offer: competitors are alone at sea, circumnavigating the globe. Ellen captured the public’s attention on her first attempt as she battled against the elements and equipment failures for 94 days, finishing second and becoming the youngest person ever to have achieved the feat. After nearly a decade of professional sailing Ellen established the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, leaders in promoting education and innovation in order to hasten the adoption of the circular economy.
As a schoolgirl Ellen saved up to buy her first boat, an 8ft dinghy. By the time she was 18 she owned a 21ft pocket cruiser and sailed around Britain solo. That year she was named Young Sailor of the Year. A few years later she was taking on one of the toughest challenges in the world, the Vendée Globe.
Ellen became the youngest sailor to complete the gruelling race, finishing a remarkable second place. Her determination, bravery, and her video and radio updates documenting the physical and emotional trails of the journey made her a national hero. Even the French dubbed her the greatest English sailor since Nelson. She went on to break the record for the fastest solo circumnavigation by over a day, setting a number of other records on the way and becoming arguably one of the most famous sailors in the world.
After leaving competition, Ellen pursued her passion for the circular economy. Having travelled the world on boats where resource management is a life and death matter, she felt the world would soon face similar challenges. Working with companies including BT and National Grid, the Foundation seeks to encourage businesses to create products and services with the minimum of waste and the maximum utility.
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Dame Ellen MacArthur DBE
Dame Ellen MacArthur Conference Speaker