Around Britain sailor back home

KAREN Hodges has spent the past three-and-a-half months dealing with conditions that have ranged from calm blue waters to high winds and treacherous seas.

KAREN Hodges has spent the past three-and-a-half months dealing with conditions that have ranged from calm blue waters to high winds and treacherous seas.

But on Saturday, the 23-year-old completed her voyage around Britain at Woolverstone on the River Orwell, greeted by dozens of her fellow Royal Harwich Yacht Club members.

"The welcome was fantastic. They sent seven boats out to see me all dressed in full flags. I am happy how it panned out and I have been extremely lucky. It's a big achievement and I want to carry on going now with bigger races," said Ms Hodges.

"I never thought that I wanted to stop. The last three weeks were really hard. I had a strong wind and started to worry that I couldn't finish by the end of September, but I managed to scrape in which is a relief."


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Ms Hodges' achievements aboard her 18-foot yacht Loon@Sea are all the more remarkable as she was a complete novice just 12 months ago.

"I got into sailing by watching Ellen MacArthur in the Vendee Globe race. I had never even stepped in a boat before, but I thought I would have a go. I wanted the challenge and adventure and thought I could do it," said the Royal Harwich Yacht Club member.

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Her route re-traced that of Ellen MacArthur's voyage around Britain that she undertook when she was aged 18. Ms Hodges originally planned to sail anti-clockwise round the coast from Harwich on June 8, but the wind conditions forced her to head north.

Ms Hodges, who also used the challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research, thanked all the people who helped her prepare for the voyage, especially her mother and father.

"Both my parents have been really, really supportive, so much so that I would not have been able to do it with out them," she said.

After more than three months at sea, Ms Hodges has had her sailing skills considerably honed by her experiences and is already planning her next challenge – the Mini Transat single-handed yacht race across the Atlantic, which starts in November 2003.

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