Monday, 23 December 2013

Speakout Advanced p 84. Around The World in 94 Days. Extra Reading

In February 2001, at the age of 24, Ellen MacArthur became the youngest and fastest ever woman to sail round the world. After 94 days alone on board yacht Kingfisher, she finished second to Michel Desjoyaux of France in the single-handed Vendee Globe event.

In sport, like life, the winner is usually feted, and runners-up quickly forgotten. This time the roles were reversed and it was Ellen, weighing just 50 kilos and barely 1m 60 tall, that really captured people's imaginations and emotions. One newspaper in France, where she was and is a real heroine, summed up the national mood there with the headline "Well done, Michel, bravo Ellen".

As with many spectacular achievers, the signs were there from an early age, even in the unpromising nautical terrain of landlocked Derbyshire. Her great-grandparents were sailing people and a great-uncle was a merchant seaman, but any real link with the sea is tenuous. There was, however, an Auntie Thea who lived on the east coast of England and had a 26-foot sailing boat called Cabaret. It took just one trip on the open sea with her aunt to spark off Ellen's lifelong passion. She was eight years old. After that she began saving her pocket money and spent all her spare time reading sailing books in the library, absorbing information like a sponge. With her savings and the help of her grandmother she bought a 8-foot fibreglass dinghy, and from that moment on there was no keeping her away from the water.

Sailing around Britain single-handed at the age of 18 was just the start; Ellen had long since set her sights on the Vendee. But finding the money to undertake round-the-world voyages is no easy feat. She wrote 2,000 letters requesting sponsorship and received just two replies, one, happily, from the Kingfisher company who were looking to expand into France. And in terms of race preparation, if thoroughness was the key of success, Ellen could certainly be considered one of the favourites. In the eight months leading up to the start on the race, she sailed no fewer than 60,000 miles at the helm of her 60-foot Kingfisher, far more than the rest of the fleet put together in the same period.

During her three months at sea MacArthur negotiated deadly icebergs, gigantic waves and gale-force winds. She endured the freezing cold of the Arctic and suffered the blistering heat of the windless doldrums. Racing conditions meant sleeping in 10-minute bursts, a survival suit that stayed on for weeks at a time and hands and wrists covered in sores and cuts. Food was dried or frozen. Water came from desalinator, which passes sea water through a membrane. "You don't really wash in the icy waters of the southern ocean", she laughs. "Anyway, there's no one to tell you that you smell."

As Kingfisher crossed the fishing line Ellen was surrounded by hundreds of spectator boats and a cheering crowd of 200,000 lined the shore. Stepping off her yacht she looked remarkably composed and seemed to take the change from solitude to public adulation very much in her stride. Her thoughts, she later confessed, were on the realization that had dominated her life for the previous four or five years. "Throughout that time my sole focus had been crossing the finished line, and in the fastest possible time." Now she could savour that moment.

But despite MacArthur's belief that everyone who finishes the Vendee is a winner, she still feels a sense of disappointment that, having taken the lead from the eventual winner Michel Desjoyaux 10 days from the finish, she did not quite have the energy or good fortune to turn her advantage into victory. "You have to believe you can win from the start." she asserts. "Deep down you're a competitor, you don't climb the mast and come back black and blue just for a cruise. You do it because it's a race."

The public will now be hoping to see a suitable encore, some new feat of endurance to justify her celebrity status. For Ellen can no longer claim , as she did in her post-race press conference, to be the simple Derbyshare girl with "no mobile, no credit cards, no money, no nothing"; she is a heroine and an inspiration to others of her generation. As if to reinforce this, and despite her reluctance to take on this role, she later commented: "If there's one thing I've learned in this past year, it's that deep down in your heart, if you have a dream, then you can and must make it happen."


1. At the time of her achievement we learn that Ellen

A. Enjoyed only short-lived success.
B. Was more famous in France than anywhere else.
C. Attracted more attention than Michael Desjoyaux.
D. Became popular because of her size.

2. Where did Ellen's initial interest in sailing come from?

A. She came from a family of sailing enthusiasts.
B. She went to see one of her relatives.
C. She read widely on the subject .
D. She lived near the sea.

3. What do we learn about Ellen at the start of the race?

A. People thought she had a very good chance of winning.
B. She was a more experienced sailor than the other racers.
C. She had been waiting for this moment since she was 18.
D. She had gone to great lengths to achieve her ambition.

4. The writer suggests that one cause of discomfort for Ellen at sea was

A. The shortage of water.
B. Her failure to sleep.
C. Extremes of temperature.
D. A lack of cooking facilities.

5. According to the winter, when Ellen finished the race, she was

A. Overwhelmed by her new-found fame.
B. Surprised by the number of people who came to greet her.
C. Able to reflect on her achievement.
D. Delighted to be amongst people again.

6. According to the writer, Ellen

A. Thinks she deserved to win the race.
B. Has mixed feelings about the outcome of the race.
C. Knew she would win the race.
D. Thinks Michel Desjoyaux was lucky to beat her.

7. Which of the following views does the writer express in the last paragraph?

A. She has the power to motivate.
B. She has no right to fame yet.
C. Her comments lack depth.
D. She needs to change her lifestyle.

1. C 2. B 3. D 4. C 5. C 6. B 7. A
Single-handed: on your own with nobody helping you.

Fêted /ˈfeɪtɪd/: admired, honoured and entertained.

Runners-up: a person or team that does not finish first in a competition or race, but that wins a prize.

To reverse roles: to exchange the positions or roles of two things.

Barely: just; certainly not more than (a particular amount, age, time, etc.).

To sum up: summarise.

Mood: the way a group of people feel about sthg; the atmosphere in a place or among a group of people.

Headline: the title of a newspaper article printed in large letters, especially at the top of the front page.

Achiever: a person who achieves a high level of success, especially in their career.

Unpromising: not likely to be successful or show good results. Sp. Poco prometedor.

Landlocked: surrounded by land. Sp. Sin salida al mar, sin litoral.

Merchant seaman: a member of the merchant navy or a sailor on a ship below the rank of an officer.

Tenuous: weak, easily proved false.

To spark off: to cause sthg to start, especially suddenly. Sp. Desencadenar, despertar.

Lifelong: lasting or existing all through your life.

Fibreglass:/ˈfaɪbəɡlɑːs/ Sp. fibra de vidrio

Dinghy: /ˈdɪŋi/a small open boat that you sail or row. Sp. Bote, velero.

To set your sights on sthg / on doing sthg: to decide that you want sthg and to try very hard to get it

To undertake: to make yourself responsible for sthg and start doing it.

Voyage: a long journey, especially by sea or in space.

Feat: an action or a piece of work that needs skill, strength or courage. Sp. Hazaña, proeza.

To request: to ask for sthg formally and politely.

In terms of: used when you are referring to a particular aspect of sthg. Sp. En cuanto a, desde el punto de vista de.

Thoroughness: meticulousness. Sp. meticulosidad, esmero.

To lead up to: to be an introduction to or the cause of sthg.

Helm: a handle or wheel used for steering a boat or ship. Sp. Timón.

Fleet: a group of ships fishing together.

To negotiate: to successfully get over or past a difficult part on a path or route. Sp. Sortear, salvar, superar.

Gale-force winds: extremely strong winds.

To endure: to experience and deal with sthg that is painful or unpleasant, especially without complaining. Sp. Soportar, aguantar.

Blistering: extremely hot in a way that is uncomfortable. Sp. Abrasador.

Doldrums: a lack of activity or improvement.

Bursts: a short period of intense activity or strong emotion that often starts suddenly.

Sore: a painful, often red, place on your body where there is a wound or an infection. Sp. Llaga.

Desalinator: device for removing salt from sea water.

To cheer: to shout loudly, to show support or praise for sby, or to give them encouragement.

To step off: to lift your foot and move it off a particular direction; to move a short distance. Sp. Bajarse, apearse.

Composed: calm and in control of your feelings. Sp. Sereno, tranquilo.

Adulation: excessive flattery or admiration. Sp. Adulación

To take sthg in stride: to accept and deal with sthg difficult without letting it worry you too much. Sp. Tomarse algo con calma.

To fulfil: to do or achieve what was hoped for or expected.

Sole: only.

Savour: /ˈseɪvə/to enjoy the full taste or flavour of sthg, especially by eating or drinking it slowly.

Take the lead: Sp. tomar la delantera

Eventual: final, Sp. último

To assert: to state clearly and firmly that sthg is true. Sp. Afirmar.

Deep down: if you know sthg deep down, you know your true feelings about sthg, although you may not admit them to yourself.

Mast: a tall pole on a boat or ship that supports the sails.

Black and blue: Sp. amoratado

Encore: an extra short performance given at the end of a concert or other performance; a request for this made by an audience calling out.

Endurance: the ability to continue doing sthg painful or difficult for a long period of time without complaining. Sp. Resistencia, aguante, fortaleza, entereza.

Reluctance: Sp. desgana, renuencia, a regañadientes. Reluctant: hesitating before doing sth because you do not want to do it or because you are not sure that it is the right thing to do

Take on: adopt. Sp. Adquirir

Go to great lengths: Sp.  hacer lo posible

Overwhelm: affect deeply in mind and emotion. Sp. Abrumar.

Outcome: Sp.  Resultado 

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