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Sailing - 10. July 2009.

Ellen MacArther

Questions number 1


1.)    How did the ‘Voyage of Discovery’ come about?

The Trust was set up in 2003 and every summer since then we have been taking young people sailing in the waters around the Solent and on a residential course near Bradwell in Essex. This year we wanted to go one step further and embark on a new adventure - a longer trip that everyone could feel part of.

What is great about this Round Britain trip is that it is providing an opportunity for the young people sailing to return to the paediatric oncology wards of the hospitals where they were treated themselves to communicate their experiences and recovery path to those currently undergoing treatment for cancer.


2.)    How important is it for you to work with young people?


I love working with young people because they see life through fresh eyes. In most cases, the young people who sail with the Trust are inspirational in their own right and are wise beyond their years.

3.)    Why do you think that sailing is more beneficial for the young people than any other sport?

To be honest, I think that getting involved in any sport is beneficial for young people, it keeps you physically and mentally fit, is a great way to make friends and teaches you to work as a team.

Sailing is what I know best so it made sense for me to go sailing with the young people. I do think sailing is quite special though because the experience of getting out on the water can be really different from the young people’s daily lives.  I love sailing because of the sense of freedom that it gives me and I hope that it also gives freedom to the young people – the freedom not to have to think about their illnesses for a while.

4.)    What do you hope the young people you’re working with will get out of this experience?


To make new friends who have been through similar experiences, build their confidence and feeling of independence and have a lot of fun in the process!

5.)    How are the young people coping with the demands of sailing?


Really well. We have been very impressed with how they are getting on. They have taken to the sailing really well and just get stuck in.  It’s also amazing to see the huge difference in their confidence and courage between when they first get onboard and when they leave the boat five days later.

6.)    Have there been any particularly memorable events on the voyage so far?


A real highlight was when the boat was anchored off the Farne islands, off the east coast between Newcastle and Edinburgh. The crew saw some amazing wildlife -puffins, guillemots, seals. Sailing under Tower Bridge was also a really breathtaking experience.

7.)    What problems have you encountered so far on the voyage?

The main problem we have is that all the young people who have already sailed want to come back on another leg and we don’t have any space! Still, at least it is a nice problem to have!

8.)    How much money are you aiming to raise? And where will it be going?


It would be fantastic if we could raise £20,000 to take more young people in recovery from cancer and leukaemia sailing.

Anyone can show their support for the Trust by donating £10 and ‘buying a mile’ of the Voyage. Donations can be made online by visiting www.justgiving.com/buyamile. A virtual yacht has been created to track fundraising and each donation will move it forward one mile. Progress can be tracked on the voyage website, www.roundbritain.org

9.)    How did you select the young people to take part in the voyage of discovery?

We sent out letters to all the young people who had already sailed with the Trust asking them if they would like to take part in this Round Britain trip and we selected them on a first come, first serve basis.

10.)    What are you planning to do next?


The Trust exists to take as many young people in recovery from cancer and leukaemia out sailing as possible and that is exactly what we will continue to do!

 

Questions number 2

 

Ellen Macarthur ‘Round Britain’ Trip of Discovery

3rd May 2009 – 13th September 2009

www.roundbritain.org:
“We are raising funds to ensure more young people in the future have the opportunity to experience the challenge of sailing and regain their confidence, as they recover from cancer and leukemia.”

1. What is it about sailing that attracted you to the sport when you were younger?

From the first moment I stepped onto my Aunt Thea’s boat at the age of 4, I felt this amazing feeling of freedom, the freedom that I could have just jumped on that boat and sailed to wherever I wanted in the world. That feeling has never left me. 

2. You recently visited your old school, Anthony Gell in Wirksworth, where you said you found the inspiration to sail. What was it that inspired you to get into sailing (e.g. a specific book, person, friend)?

When I was at school, I used to read everything about sailing that I could get my hands on and spent a lot of time in the school library poring over the adventures of the likes of Sir Francis Chicester and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. As I saw recently those books are still there with my name on them…and I don’t think many other people have taken them out since!


3. After a decade of life on the ocean, what drives you to continue to set yourself these remarkable challenges?


An insatiable desire to learn, to constantly strive to test myself and to always improve.

4. Having achieved so much in your sailing career, and becoming an icon for women’s sport, how does the Round Britain Trip of Discovery compare to previous accomplishments?

Compared to the stressful situations and lack of sleep on my round the world races, this is much more fun frankly! And doing it with such a lively crew is great too.


5. What are the main things you hope to achieve from the trip?


To see the young crew make new friends who have been through similar experiences, build their confidence and feeling of independence… and have a lot of fun in the process!


6. How did the whole idea of the trip come together and actually become reality?

The Trust was set up in 2003 and every summer since then we have been taking young people sailing in the waters around the Solent and on a residential course near Bradwell in Essex. This year we wanted to go one step further and embark on a new adventure - a longer trip that everyone could feel part of.

What is great about this Round Britain trip is that it is providing an opportunity for the young people sailing to return to the paediatric oncology wards of the hospitals where they were treated themselves to communicate their experiences and recovery path to those currently undergoing treatment for cancer.


7. Is there a personal element to this trip that made you want to help the children taking part?

I love working with young people because they see life through fresh eyes. In most cases, the young people who sail with the Trust are inspirational in their own right and are wise beyond their years.

8. How would the children recovering from cancer and leukaemia benefit from taking up sailing? What makes the sport so beneficial for them/what skills will it encourage?


To be honest, I think that getting involved in any sport is beneficial for young people, it keeps you physically and mentally fit, is a great way to make friends and teaches you to work as a team.

Sailing is what I know best so it made sense for me to go sailing with the young people. I do think sailing is quite special though because the experience of getting out on the water can be really different from the young people’s daily lives.  It is amazing to see how the crew gain confidence and courage over the course of five days.

9. Throughout the ‘Round Britain’ trip, you are visiting a number of hospitals to see children who are currently undergoing treatment. How important is it to you to make these visits and what do you hope to achieve from it?


The most important thing about these hospital visits is that they are giving an opportunity for the young people on the trip who are now in recovery to communicate with those currently in treatment. The young people who have already been through treatment tell us that external visits when you are in hospital are always exciting and they are keen to share their experiences and recovery path with those who have that still to come.


10. What has the response been like from the public so far?

It has been absolutely overwhelming to be honest. The generosity and kindness we have experienced is amazing – whether it is help with organising things at the different stopovers and gifts such as tickets to the Royal Highland Show or just general interest and curiosity from passers-by who are keen to chat to the crew and find out more.

11. Do you have any particular achievements you hope to accomplish during the rest of your sailing career?


I would absolutely love to get my incredible team back together again and have another crack at the round the world record, but whilst the sailing passion is still as strong as ever and I still have that burning ambition inside me, I have learnt about something which for me has eclipsed the challenge of sailing.

My sailing experiences have helped me to understand how important it is to manage resources well. When you are sailing you only take the minimal resources because you are trying to be as light as possible. You manage those resources very carefully – down to the last drop of fuel - and you live on the boat in a very different way.
 
When I stepped off the boat, I sensed that life on land was different, and feeling uneasy about that I had to learn more. I have spent the past three years researching into the levels of resources we have on this earth, and learning how much of them we are using. To be perfectly honest, what I found out really concerns me. I cannot believe the speed at which we are using these resources up, particularly oil which we rely on for so many of the pillars of modern life such as transport, food, medicines. I feel that I now have a duty to pass on what I have learnt to as many people as possible. That is what I am committed to working on in the coming years.

12. How does it feel to have had the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe and do you have the desire to try and win it back?

I was sorely tempted to try and break the new record time set by Francis Joyon in January 2008; in fact I was extremely excited at the possibility of tackling a new challenge! However having researched into this whole subject of resources and how we can live more sustainably, I really feel that I can’t go back to sea for my own pleasure. There is a more important message out there which I feel I have to try to communicate, and however hard that challenge may be, I feel that right now there is nothing more important that I could do.
 

Interview by: Jenna Davies and Danielle Almond]

Pictures courtesy of www.media.roundbritain.org

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