Emma Richards MBE

Yachtswoman & First British woman to complete the Around Alone

Emma Sanderson (nee Richards) was born in 1975, and first came to Scotland at the age of five when her father was appointed in 1980 to the Chair of Aeronautics and Fluid Mechanics at the University of Glasgow. The family settled in Helensburgh, an ideal location for them to indulge in their hobby of sailing, an activity at which Emma excelled at an early age, at 11 she was competing in dinghy world championships.

She continued her interest in sailing when she entered Glasgow University and by the time she graduated in 1996 with a BSc in Sports Medicine she had already become a member of the Scottish National Olympic Training Squad where she had her introduction into professional sailing.

At the age of 23, Emma was chosen as a crew-member aboard Tracy Edwards' all-girl Royal Sun Alliance that tried to win the Jules Verne Trophy. The girls were on-course to capture the record when they unfortunately lost their mast in the Southern Ocean.

But it was her outstanding achievement in the 2002 the Around Alone that caught the attention of the media and fired the imagination of the general public. The Around Alone is the longest race for any individual in any sport, covering some 28,800 miles of the world's roughest and most inhospitable oceans - taking place every four years, and starting and finishing in America, with a multi leg structure.

After 132 days at sea, Emma became the youngest ever, and 1st British woman, to the complete the race. A feat recognised by the award of an MBE in the 2003 New Years Honours List. On hearing the news that she was to be honoured in such a way, Emma commented: "I'm absolutely thrilled and humbled to receive an MBE. I'd like to thank my sponsor, Pindar, my family and the tremendous support that I received from all around the world during my solo circumnavigation; I couldn't have completed my 132 days at sea without everyone's continual support, so to be given this great honour is as much for them as it is for me. I also think that this is good for sailing as a sport, which does not often receive the recognition of mainstream sports such as rugby or football."

Emma was awarded Young Alumnus of the Year in 2003 by Glasgow University in recognition of being one of Britain's most talented young sports stars.

Emma now lives with her husband New Zealand Yacthsman Mike 'Moose' Sanderson, an America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race sailor. Mike and Emma were married in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, in May 2006, and have a daughter.