Dame Ellen MacArthur was a guest star on Top Gear, appearing in Series 7, Episode 4 and achieved a lap time of 1:46.7 and has stayed on top of the chart since. She is to stay in first place, as the Suzuki Liana has been replaced with a Chevrolet Lacetti.
She acquired her early interest in sailing by reading Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons books and is the Patron of the Nancy Blackett Trust which owns and operates Ransome's yacht, Nancy Blackett. Her first experience of sailing was on a boat owned by her Aunt Thea on the east coast of England. She saved her school dinner money in order to buy her first boat.
She was named 1998 British Telecom/Royal Yachting Association "Yachtsman of The Year" in the UK and "Sailing's Young Hope" in France.
She first came to general prominence in 2001 when she came second in the Vendée Globe solo round-the-world sailing race in her boat Kingfisher (named after her sponsors, Kingfisher plc), and subsequently MacArthur was awarded an MBE for services to sport.
In 2003 she captained a round-the-world record attempt for a crewed yacht in Kingfisher 2 (a catamaran formerly owned by Steve Fossett and known as ´Orange`), but was thwarted by a broken mast in the Southern Ocean.