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French honour for British yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur

15th April 2008

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, presented his nation's highest honour to record-breaking British yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur.

The 31-year-old endurance sailor was given the Legion of Honour as the French leader toured the Old Royal Naval College on the River Thames in Greenwich, southwest London.

"Your courage, your tenacity, your talent have made you a woman admired and loved on both sides of the Channel, which you have crossed so often," Sarkozy told MacArthur.

"The deep affection the French and British feel for you is one of the raw emotions at the uniting of two peoples."

MacArthur, a fluent French-speaker, set a world record for the fastest solo round-the-world voyage in 2005, but it was reclaimed by Frenchman Francis Joyon two months ago.

"What a feat, in all its immensity -- the adventure, the danger, the journey to the end of the earth and the extremes of human endurance," Sarkozy said of her 2005 achievement.

"A record taken from Francis Joyon, who won it back last January, with your warm congratulations, and is waiting impatiently, as we are, for the next episode," he added

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