Katie Miller chats to YW.com about her voyage around the UK in the wake of Ellen MacArthur 17/8/06

Nineteen-year-old Katie Miller from Birmingham completed an eastabout circumnavigation of the United Kingdom in a 21ft CoribbeeElektraalmost 10 years to the day after Ellen MacArthur made her first solo voyage. And in doing so has raised over £7,000 for the Ellen MacArthur Trust.

Miller who was 18 years old when she set off on 18 April, the same age as MacArthur when she competed the voyage aboard her Coribbee, has succeeded in carrying out an almost identical campaign to MacArthur even as far as in the method she used to raise the funds for the project. Within two years Miller raised the funds to purchase a boat, restore it and successfully manage to attract an impressive list of top sponsors including the likes of Raymarine and Gul.

Chatting after her three-month stint away from home Miller told Yachting World: “Doing exactly what Ellen did was the only way to go about it. It was all part of the plan. I wanted to do it all myself so I had to knuckle down and raise funds to pay for it while I was still at school. The whole project took two years. I had no social life for a few years because I spent my time working on the boat writing and sending lots of letters to potential sponsors. Getting sponsors was a nightmare to start with but I think Ellen’s name helped a lot. Eventually I managed to purchase the boat in August last year. I trailed her back up to the Midlands, kept her on my front drive and worked on her full time there.”

Miller, whose sailing experience was previously limited to family flotilla holidays and a bit of dinghy racing in Solos and GP14s at Chase Water Sailing Club in the Midlands, was inspired with the fund-raising round Britain circumnavigation idea after her Day Skipper exam, commenting: “I’d been was working for the Ellen MacArthur Trust for a year anyway raising money for that, but the thing that really sparked the idea was when I passed my Day Skipper exam. With the experience I’d gained from that I decided that to do something positive for the Trust and would sail round the country.”

After exactly three months Miller arrived back at Universal Marina in Hamble on 18 July. She then headed to Cowes where she was joined aboard Elektra by Ellen MacArthur. According to Miller her and MacArthur spent the day comparing notes about their trips, commenting: “I think Ellen was quite excited about it. I suppose it was fairly nostalgic particularly when we chatted about some of the same experiences. We seem to have met lot of the same people including a chap who Ellen met in Inverness. When she was there 10 years ago he was about to set sail in a little converted liferaft to the West Indies. When I met him, he’d just got back. It was such a coincidence.”

The plan now is for Miller to head to Southampton Solent University for three years to study Yacht Manufacturing and Surveying. Here she’ll be able to continue sailing and have the opportunity to plan her next project which could be a Mini Transat campaign, again the same as MacArthur. Miller concluded: “It’s funny you should mention Mini Transat because that’s exactly what’s crossed my mind. I think it’s the next obvious step, although I need to gain a lot more experience first though.”

For details of how to help Miller reach her Ellen MacArthur Trust fund-raising target of £10,000 go to www.thechallenge2006.co.uk.