Inspired by Ellen

James Boyd spoke to Milton Keynes-based solo sailor in the making, Karen Hodges
It was just a matter of time before it happened, and now there may be a new Ellen MacArthur in the making. Compared to Ellen's well documented path from childhood in Derbyshire to sailing courses to sailing round Britain in her Corribee to the Mini Transat, etc etc Karen Hodges embarked on what might be described as 'stage two' on the road to Ellendom yesterday when she set off round Britain on an 18ft Caprice. Hodges, a 24 year old from Milton Keynes - as equally an unlikely spot in the heart of England as Ellen's Whatstandwell, Derbs - became inspired to follow Ellen's path when she happened to see some footage of la petite anglaise's Vendee Globe on the television. "I saw it on News at 10 as I was feeding my face with chips. And I thought 'wow', what the hell was that?" Brought up in the Buckinghamshire new town, much maligned for its American-style grid layout, Hodges went to university in Coventry where she studied art (by coincidence Ellen is also a talented artist). Since then she has been back in Milton Keynes working in the accounts department of PC retailers Ingram Micro. "I didn't know anything about sailing before," Hodges told madfor sailing. "I don't think I'd ever seen a race before. It was just the image of one person on a yacht and the sea. So I did the research, I read about all the other singlehanded sailors and now I'm just completely into the whole trip. It is a very cool story that she's from Derbyshire and daddy didn't buy her a yacht." Hodges has been sailing for about a year now. "The first time I stepped on a yacht was on a competent crew course," she said of her debut at Southern Sailing School. "It