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EMMA'S A LONE STAR; Yachtswoman sets solo record.

Byline: RICHARD GRAY

COURAGEOUS Emma Richards sailed into the record books yesterday after becoming the first woman to cross the Atlantic single-handed from west to east.

Emma, from Helensburgh, in Dunbartonshire, sailed solo from the US to the UK in the first leg of the single-handed round the world yacht race, Around Alone.

She now hopes to be the first woman to complete the gruelling, 29,000-mile race which is due to finish in the US in April.

Emma, 27, sailed into Brixham harbour, Devon, to be greeted by jubilant scenes.

Her family met her as she stepped off her tiny monohull for the first time since leaving New York two weeks ago. Emma said: "I really haven't had time to be lonely, but it's great to be back."

She braved extreme weather conditions and had to cope with a wrecked sail right at the start of her epic journey.

The yachtswoman battled through the crisis to came fourth against 12 male competitors, making up several places in the last few days.

She said: "I feel great now I have arrived safely and in a good position in the race.

"The guys have been giving away the places, I couldn't believe their tactics."

If Emma completes the tough eight-month race - one of the most gruelling yachting challenges - she will become the first woman to finish.

Last night she insisted she was now trying to focus on the next stage to South Africa which begins in two weeks.

Swiss yachtsman Bernard Stamm is the current race leader.

Emma said: "After enjoying a few home comforts I will start thinking about the next leg."

CAPTION(S):

RECORD-MAKER: Brave Emma
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 30, 2002
Words:277
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