Yachtswoman's record ratified

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The Independent Online
Lisa Clayton's record of sailing round the world single-handedly and unaided was finally ratified by officials yesterday, two months after she completed her 286-day voyage.

Unfounded rumours circulating in yachting circles were dispelled by the World Sailing Speed Record Council when it announced that it had examined thousands of documents which proved the 36-year-old yachtswoman had circumnavigated the globe according to its rules.

Speculation about the validity of Ms Clayton's record surfaced earlier this month when Sir Peter Johnson, the council's chairman, expressed surprise at her lack of contact with other vessels during the voyage.

There were also suggestions that she had been passed spare parts when she put in for repairs at Cape Town, an allegation the council said was unsubstantiated. Its acceptance of her record was firm and unambiguous. It said: "The International Yacht Racing Union and the World Record Speed Sailing Council announced today that it had ratified the record of Spirit of Birmingham sailed single-handed by Miss Lisa Clayton around the world in accordance with its rules for circumnavigation. The record ... for unassisted single-handed women's circumnavigation under sail by Lisa Clayton is therefore confirmed."

Ms Clayton, a travel consultant from Edgbaston, Birmingham, had said the reason she had not radioed other yachts was simple; she was an unknown in yachting circles and did not know anyone to radio.

And more than 4,000 satellite faxes to her business manager, Peter Harding, contained pin-point locations proving where her boat was at any one time.

The council's inquiry confirmed repairs were undertaken in Cape Town, as is allowed in the rules, but the repairs were carried out by Ms Clayton alone and there was no evidence to suggest anyone else helped.

Ms Clayton was "delighted" by the decision. "I think a lot of people, particularly men, thought that because I was an unknown name and because I am a woman, I was not able to face a challenge like this. I never thought the council would find against me, I was that confident in myself and Peter."

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