Questionnaire: Ellen MacArthur - Yachtswoman of the Year

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The Independent Online
What is the best part of being at sea?

The freedom to go to any country in the world using just the power of the wind. It's unrestricted travel and a challenge at the same time.

Are you ever scared?

You get nervous and you are cautious if you are in danger. But not scared; at times like that you have to focus on the problem.

Are you ever miserable?

Yes. Everyone has down days in life.

What inspires you most?

A mixture of technology, skill, and the competition.

What other sports do you enjoy?

Running, swimming and horse riding. Unfortunately, I don't have much time to do them.

Do you like watching any other sports?

If I had time to do that I would be doing something myself.

Do you listen to music at sea?

Yes, my current favourite is the Irish singer, Enya, and the soundtrack from the film The Big Blue is fantastic, it has deeply affected me. Oh, I'd better add something modern. I like the Corrs.

What was the last book which you read?

I am in the middle of Wild Swans and am enjoying it very much. It has introduced me to something I knew nothing about and made me realise that if I think I'm having a bad day, it's nothing compared with what those three daughters of China went through.

What food do you miss most when you are sailing?

Fresh fruit off the trees.

If you weren't a sailor, what would you like to be?

I'd like to work with nature and animals, anything from vet work to studying dolphins. I love any animals.