Prestigious award for Ellen Macarthur

Dame Ellen MacArthur was yesterday awarded France’s highest decoration, the Légion d’Honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. This was a formal recognition of the award that was bestowed upon Ellen after she set a new solo non-stop round the world record of 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds in February 2005.

In his speech, the President said that Ellen had been chosen for this prestigious award as a symbol of Franco-British friendship.

Ellen received her medal in the Old Naval College in Greenwich, the exact same location where the first hero of British solo sailing, Sir Francis Chichester, was knighted by the Queen in 1967.

Ellen is the second British sailor to be handed the award: Pete Goss was also awarded the Légion d’Honneur for his Southern Ocean rescue of Raphael Dinelli in the 1996 Vendée Globe.

The Légion d’Honneur is a French order established by Napoléon Bonapoarte in 1802. The highest decoration in France, it is divided into five degrees:
Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandeur (Commander), Grand Officier (Grand Officer) and Grand-Croix (Grand Cross). Ellen was awarded the Chevalier.