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Ditching the sea for the environment

LONDON, Oct 5 – Yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur has revealed that she has retired from competitive sailing to focus on environmental campaigning.

Appearing on Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4, Dame Ellen, who broke the record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe in 2005, said a trip to the Atlantic island of South Georgia had made her aware of the challenges facing the planet.

At sea, every resource is precious and must be used carefully, she said – even something as commonplace as kitchen roll is eked out piece by piece – and this had given her a different view on the way mankind treats the environment.

"I never thought that anything in my life could eclipse sailing, I didn’t think it was possible but after being in South Georgia, after learning these lessons I suppose, and the more I researched into it, the more frightened I got and that has really scared me to the point that I can’t go back to sea and go around the world again because this really matters.

"I still sail, I love sailing, I’ll still sail for pleasure, I sail for charity – the Ellen MacArthur Trust with kids with cancer, leukaemia, but as long as this challenge is there to be communicated, will I invest four years of my life to sailing round the world? No.

"This new understanding for me has become far more important."

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