Ellen MacArthur first made headlines in 2001 when she raced single-handedly non-stop around the world in the Vendée Globe at 24 years of age. After 94 days at sea, she came second in one of the hardest races in offshore sailing.She had earlier won the solo transatlantic race from the UK to the US and went on to win the Route du Rhum from France to the Caribbean in 2002.
After this successful run in the monohull Open 60 class, MacArthurshifted focus to the multihull circuit. In 2004 she left Falmouth in the UK on board the 75-foot trimaran B&Q. She returned 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds later, having sailed over 26,000 miles to accomplish the fastest solo circumnavigationof the globe. She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2005 and has received the Legion d’Honneurof France. She founded the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust in 2003, a charity that takes young people between eight and 24 sailing to help them regain confidence after treatment for cancer.
MacArthur's time at sea helped her understand what it means to rely on a finite supply of resources on the boat.Involvement with governments, scientists and industry sectors to understand how on land too populations rely on finite resources in the form of materials, energy and water made her give up racing to focus on an enormousglobal challenge. In September 2010 she launched the Ellen MacArthur Foundation with the goal of “accelerating the transition to a regenerative, circular economy”. The Foundation works in the three areas of business, education and communication.