When Ellen Macarthur was nine she saved her pocket money, by eating less, to buy her first little boat and slept on the floor of her bedroom so as to store the boat's mast and sails. At 18 she decided that sailing round Britain alone 'seemed to be the most natural thing to do'. At 24 she raced alone single-handed around the world, was the fastest woman ever to do so and was only just beaten into second place in the race. Taking on the World is her autobiography. She is 26.
The book is a thrilling adventure story, more interesting perhaps if you know a little of sailing and the sea, but written for someone who does not. Above all it describes, in matter-of-fact terms, the guts that are needed, the skills that have to be acquired, to repair a boat at sea when anything can and does break, from the ropes that hold the sails up to the sails themselves, the carbon fibre hull, the navigation equipment and the satellite communication system.