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Dame Ellen MacArthur receives Legion d’Honneur

French President Nicolas Sarkozy Awards Brit sailor for her RTW record

samedi 29 mars 2008Redaction SSS [Source RP]

At a ceremony at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich on Thursday, 27th March, BT Team Ellen skipper Dame Ellen MacArthur, was awarded France’s highest decoration, the Légion d’Honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. This was a formal recognition of the award that was bestowed upon Ellen after she set a new solo non-stop round the world record Record #sailingrecord of 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds in February 2005.

In his speech, the President highlighted the reasons why Ellen had been chosen for this prestigious award by saying that Ellen is a symbol of Franco-British friendship - adored by people from both countries and she symbolises something that unites the two countries. Her passion for the sea - offshore racing is a passion for the French and she is so courageous especially given the fact that she was so young when she first sailed into the record Record #sailingrecord books. Not only is she a very brave person who has made people dream with her adventures on the sea, but she is also an extremely kind and generous person as evidenced by her work with the Ellen MacArthur Trust taking young people with cancer and leukaemia sailing to help them rebuild their confidence.

Ellen responded to this award saying it is a huge honour to receive this award from a country from where she had set off on some of her greatest adventures. She has spent a great deal of time in France over the past 11 years, and the support and warmth shown by its people has been truly touching. She also mentioned she feels huge gratitude towards the incredible team she works with, as it was as much their commitment and drive as her own which has lead to where they are today.

Ellen received her medal in the exact same location where the first hero of British sailing, Sir Francis Chichester, was knighted by the Queen Elizabeth II in 1967. Fellow British sailor Pete Goss was also awarded the Légion d’Honneur for his rescue of Raphael Dinelli in the 1996 Vendée Globe solo round the world yacht race during a severe storm in the Southern Ocean.

The Légion d’Honneur is a French order established by Napoléon Bonapoarte, First Consul of the First Republic, in 1802. This world-renowned Order is the highest decoration in France and is divided into five various degrees : Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandeur (Commander), Grand Officier (Grand Officer) and Grand-Croix (Grand Cross). Ellen was awarded the Chevalier.

In Paris last September, Ellen launched the BT Team Ellen project that includes the BT IMOCA Imoca #IMOCA 60 to be raced by French skipper, Sébastien Josse, in the 2008/09 solo Vendée Globe and Nick Moloney, skipper of the BT Extreme 40. Ellen’s sailing projects for this year include the Archipelago Raid on the BT F18 plus helming the BT Extreme 40 in the Round the Island Race as well as supporting BT’s CSR programme and continuing with her commitment to pursuing and communicating how to lead a more sustainable life on land.

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