Ellen admits to a feeling of envy at the Vendée Globe and hints she'll be back


Ellen MacArthur is back in Les Sables d’Olonne for the Vendée Globe, the race that catapulted her to fame. She is in town in support of her team-mate Seb Josse, also sponsored by BT, but no doubt she’d be here anyway. Nearly all the past sailors are.

Unlike most of them, however, Ellen is akin to a pop star, hounded by fans at every turn.

Apart from what she makes of the fleet, the question Ellen is asked most often is whether she’s coming back to race. That seems more relevant this year because Michel Desjoyeaux, who beat her into 2nd place in 2001, is on the line again and a race favourite once more.

To the French paper L’Equipe she hinted that she would like to return to the Vendée Globe, and she admitted to me a strong feeling of ‘Vendée envy’. Ellen is, after all, a salt-water-in-the-blood type ocean sailor and born competitor.

She and Mark Turner are far too businesslike about their events and sports management company OC Group for her return to the Vendée Globe without first firmly establishing a diversified sailing team and sponsorship. They can’t afford to be a one-product company.

Besides, she tells me she’s enjoying building a house on the Isle of Wight, where she has something of an Old McDonald’s Farm with hens, a cockerel, two dogs and some Tamworth pigs.

But in 2012, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ellen here again. Judging by the reception here, the Vendée Globe race itself would gain a massive star. And Britain might see its best hope of winning the Vendée Globe.