what goes around…

When B & Q supported Ellen McArthur’s Solo circumnavigation record (still the fastest woman around alone non-stop) part of the deal was an ‘Asian Tour’ which included a stopover in Shanghai.

We sourced secure (very tight but secure) berthing for her less than 1 mile from Shanghai’s iconic ‘Bund’.

The Shanghai British Chamber of Commerce laid on a gala dinner. I couldn’t say how many were there but it was in the 400-500 range.

I got the opportunity to meet Ellen beforehand so I printed a picture of my boat and wrote on the back “All the best skippers have owned a Red Corribee”. She looked at the words quizzically so I invited her to turn it over. He comments weren’t what you would expect like “Oh, it’s a boat like mine” – not Ellen. “I see you had roller furling, I had a hanked on jib; You had the tall rig I see, and so on”

I felt like saying “It’s a boat like yours!!!” 

After the main course of the dinner the MC got Ellen on the stage and had a Q & A session with her, every question she answered quick fire. As commodore of the local yacht club  I had be pre-warned I would be invited to ask the first question from the floor so I had to make it a good one. I pondered for a number of days.

When the mike was handed to me I asked her “Had you not been successful in your record attempt would it have been lack of physical ability or due to the mental stresses of the attempt?”

Ellen sat in her chair for around a minute not saying a word and finally said “The boat was designed for me, I trained and knew how to move around without risking injury but you never know. However there is no way you can train to be on your own making every major, sometimes life or death decisions for 70+ days so if I had not been successful it would have been due to the mental stress of the attempt.

A measure of the intensity of the woman that she considered the question for so long rather than just blurting out a simple pat answer.

Inspirational, and I think she still has that little Red Corribee. – SS