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Taking on the world

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Vinisha Agrawal

on 29 January 2015

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Transcript of Taking on the world

Context & Language
Ellen MacArthur
Vendée Globe

Solo round-the-world

Yacht race

In the extract, Ellen MacArthur recounts her experiences of her competing in the yacht race. She talks about the struggles that she is faced with along the way such as appalling weather, exhaustion and problems with her boat.
The main purpose of the text is to relay the events of her race to the audience from her point of view.
Tone of the article
-isolated and lonely

-worried and scared throughout

-gains empathy and sympathy from the reader
Use of Punctuation
Many ellipses (" ... ") and dashes (" - ") are used to cut sentences short and keep a brief narrative. Also, this could signify an edit from the original text to shorten the current article.
The audience is a general adult crowd, who are interested in Ellen or boat racing enthusiasts as there are many technical words used in the text. Not targeted to young people.
Taking on the world
Dame Ellen MacArthur first hit the headlines in 2001 when she raced single-handedly non-stop around the world in the Vendée Globe when only 24 years old. After 94 days at sea, Ellen returned to a different life, she had come second in one of the hardest races in offshore sailing and the response was massive.
The Vendée Globe is a round-the-world single-handed yacht race, sailed non-stop and without assistance. The race was founded by Philippe Jeantot in 1989, and since 1992 has taken place every four years.
Web pages to help
Key themes throughout the passage:

-The varying tension throughout with a clear climax

-Sympathy created from possible danger and loneliness of MacArthur

-Danger and difficulty of what MacArthur experienced.
Time to think...

1) How does the writer help us understand the danger she is facing?

2) How does MacArthur gains the reader's sympathy with her choice of words?

3) How does the writer build up tension throughout the passage?
Please take 2 minutes to read the text
Paragraph 1
Paragraph 2

Paragraph 3
Paragraph 4
Paragraph 5
Paragraph 6
Paragraph 7
"Christmas Eve" - It is a time where everyone should be with their family but she is isolated and alone instead. She gains sympathy from the reader this way.

"Hardest climb to date" - Sympathy is also gained as the reader finds out that this is difficult for her despite being an experienced sailor. A sense of foreboding creating because this is only the beginning of her struggles.

"Agonised for hours" - Sympathy is felt as the strong emotive word portrays her frustration and nervousness

'I' - the excessive use of I's in this paragraph emphasise Mc Arthur's loneliness
"Stepping out on to the moon" - a place that she is unknown to and she is powerless. A place familiar but unfamiliar at the same time.

"You can’t ease the sheets or take a reef, nor can you alter the settings for the autopilot. If something goes wrong you are not there to attend to it. You are a passive observer looking down at your boat some 90 feet below you" - Emphasizes the helplessness she is feeling and the difficulty of the task, once again to gain sympathy. She can only accept what happens as she has no control over it. Reader senses danger; tension build up. Also a great use of technical terms proving that she knows what she is doing but is unable to do them- only understood by those interested in sailing.
- In this paragraph she begins to list her problems and close the possibilities of succeeding creating tension for the reader. Later on she is successful in climbing to the top of the mast. She keeps switching between negative and positive points.

- The word exhausted is used twice in the paragraph - repetition. Telling the reader that it is nearly impossible for her to go on.

"Below the sea stretched out for ever, the size and length of the waves emphasised by this new aerial view. This is what it must look like to the albatross." - Sense of sudden tranquility contrasting to the beginning of the paragraph and the previous paragraph. Sounds like she is in a hypnotic state- hypnotised by the beauty of the sea. An Albatross is a large oceanic bird- she is relating to the albatross by seeing the same view and feeling powerful. This could partly correspond to the title of the book 'Taking on the world'
"My limbs were bruised and my head was spinning, but I felt like a million dollars" - Contrasting phrases - The danger of the environment is emphasized in her injuries but the sense of achievement is emphasized in “felt like a million dollars.” Simile used to reinforce the sense of success.

"Santa had called on Kingfisher early and we had the best present ever – a new halyard." - She finishes the text with light humour and a happy ending. It corresponds and contrasts to the beginning of the text when she was alone on Christmas eve.

'When it got light I decided that the time was right' - This opening sentence suggests that she is confident to begin with
'The most dangerous thing apart from falling off is to be thrown against the mast' - conveys a sense of a danger as there are so many things that could go wrong
'it would not be difficult to break ones up there' - expresses the danger of her task and how vulnerable she will be

The confidence that Mc Arthur has when beginning this paragraph contrasts the upcoming danger she describes at the end of the paragraph.
'harder and harder' - suggests it's not going to get easier any time soon and it's only going to get worse. The repetition reinforces the difficulty and the sense of pessimistic thoughts as she realises that the task is going to get harder.
'clinging on' - this verb conveys the difficulty of the task. It also suggests how weak, vulnerable and to some extent childish Mc Arthur feels at the mercy of the elements.
'I would wrap my arms around the mast and press my face against its cold and slippery carbon surface' - again expresses her childish vulnerability
'Eyes closed and teeth gritted, I hung on tight, wrists clenched together, and hoped.' - the fast paced sentence and series of different emotions and actions with no time to think creates tension

Each paragraph ends with a problem but not a resolution which therefore creates tension
'it would not be difficult to break bones up there...'
'I knew that I would not have the energy'
'I'd be hanging on by just one arm, trying to stop myself from smacking back into the rig.'

'final spreader for my last hike to the top' - this indicates that it is the climax
'not far now kiddo' - 'kiddo' implies she is keeping herself strong and pushing herself.
'the most dangerous part' - again implying that this is the climax of the text
'I had my heart in my mouth' - the metaphor implies how terrified and nervous she is and emphasises how dangerous it is going to be
'it's far from over' - the climax and tension in this paragraph is continued with the use of ellipses
Full transcript