Global focus for ice queen

A leading journalist in the yachting press once described Ellen MacArthur to me as an ‘ice maiden’ and it is the case that some people in this business feel she’s a bit of a cold fish. But I think they are all missing the point. She is not here to service our egos and just because we are yachting hacks doesn’t mean we have some Gaia-given right to access.

I suspect that though the 33-year-old is capable of running a ship at speed, as well as being a mechanic, navigator, meteorologist etc, she is not a multi-tasker when it comes to dealing with the abstract. Therefore when it comes to chasing the cliched ‘dream’ she has to ‘focus’.

If ever there was a leitmotif to this woman it is this word. That’s because, I believe, without being able to concentrate single-mindedly on the target she would never reach it. Others can hide their direction under chatty banter, jokes or total silence. Ellen cannot. What you see is what she is: a serious-minded, and unpretentious fanatic to the cause. You see her ‘focus’ in action and it is that which might make her seem a little chilly.

Although Ellen – as she told Desert Island Discs she would prefer to be called rather than Dame – has been ‘brutally selfish’, as she puts it, in becoming a speed champion in ocean sailing she has very quickly ‘ put something back’ with her laudable assistance through the Ellen MacArthur Trust to cancer-suffering children.

Although I hope they were spared her choice of music: Phil Collins, Coldplay and Don Henley, would be enough to have me practice a MOBNOR (MAN OVERBOARD NO RECOVERY).

Now Ellen is to focus on the planet. That has to be good news for all of us.