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Woman completes solo Atlantic voyage

PUBLISHED: 09:44 04 July 2005 | UPDATED: 15:47 25 February 2010

A YOUNG woman from East Anglia has single-handedly sailed the Atlantic in a special race – the only female competitor to finish it.

Aurelia Ditton, 25, set sail in the Original Single-Handed Transatlantic Race (OSTAR) and completed the 2,803-mile race – from Plymouth to Newport in the United States – in just 28 days.

A YOUNG woman from East Anglia has single-handedly sailed the Atlantic in a special race – the only female competitor to finish it.

Aurelia Ditton, 25, set sail in the Original Single-Handed Transatlantic Race (OSTAR) and completed the 2,803-mile race – from Plymouth to Newport in the United States – in just 28 days.

And she told yesterday how pranks by her friends kept her spirits up on the long voyage. They left a series of items hidden throughout her 34ft trimaran Shockwave which she was challenged to find – including marbles, a bottle of children's bubbles and fluffy dice.

This was the first single-handed race she had taken part in and Miss Ditton is now recuperating in the States before coming back to England.

Miss Ditton is a former pupil of Woodbridge School, Northgate Sixth Form and Suffolk College Foundation Art Course. She is now a student of sculpture at Chelsea College of Art and she is linking art into sport.

She set off with 45 competitors on May 29 from Plymouth watched by her parents, Elizabeth and Alex Ditton, of Ipswich. The race was first held in 1960 with five competitors and was won by Francis Chichester.

Nearly 30 competitors dropped out of this year's race including the two other female sailors.

Mrs Ditton, headteacher of Nacton Primary School, said: ''It was quite scary seeing her off when we saw how tiny the boat was.

''Aurelia has survived storms which shredded sails, a flooded front compartment and several scary trips up the mast to come in second position in her class and be the 11th competitor to arrive at Newport."

She added: "After the race the boat is to be painted with a special heat sensitive paint which changes colour with temperature, described by some as 'Gobstopper Paint.' The paint currently being developed by Blakes/Hempel has never been used in a marine application before.''

Miss Ditton will live on the vessel as a ''Performance Art Work'' in the Parade Ground at Chelsea College of Art and Design from September 5 for a month.

The boat will be poised at a 45degree angle as if surfing down a huge wave and flat-bed fan heaters will be positioned beneath the vessel support frame.

The colour of the yacht, starting as black, will change as the fan heaters increase the surface temperature. Atmospheric conditions including rain, wind and direct sunlight will be indeterminable colour changing factors.

As a youngster she played tournament chess for Suffolk but she turned to competitive sailing when all the family holidays began in a boatyard.

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