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Sailing - 16. February 2009.

World Record Dee Caffari First women to sail solo-non stop bother ways around the world


Dee Caffari onboard her yacht Aviva completed a double world first at 13:13
(GMT) on 16 February 2009 by crossing the official finish line of the round the world Vendée Globe yacht race.

British yachtswoman Dee Caffari, 36, arrives in Les Sables d'Olonne, France onboard Aviva as she sets a new world record as the first woman to have successfully completed a solo, non-stop circumnavigation both ways around the world.
British yachtswoman Dee Caffari, 36, arrives in Les Sables d'Olonne, France onboard Aviva as she sets a new world record as the first woman to have successfully completed a solo, non-stop circumnavigation both ways around the world.
photos OnEdition


British yachtswoman Dee Caffari, 36, has succeeded in the face of adversity to achieve her ultimate goal of becoming the first woman to sail solo, non-stop both ways around the world. The former PE teacher from Hertfordshire crossed the finish line in sixth place with a heavily damaged mainsail having spent 99 days at sea.

The British skipper, supported by Aviva, the world¹s fifth largest insurance group, burst into the record books in May 2006 by becoming the first woman to sail solo, non-stop the Œwrong¹ way around the world (against the prevailing winds and currents). That solo circumnavigation took her 178 days in a 72 foot steel yacht battling into the wind. Now less than three years later Caffari, who only started solo sailing in 2005, has taken less than 100 days to complete her solo circumnavigation the Œright¹ way around the world.

British yachtswoman Dee Caffari, 36, arrives in Les Sables d'Olonne, France onboard Aviva as she sets a new world record as the first woman to have successfully completed a solo, non-stop circumnavigation both ways around the world.


Caffari was surrounded by a flotilla of supporter boats as she crossed the line, holding bright white flares above her head. The solo sailor said:

³This is just incredible! To see all these people here to watch me cross the line and make history is just awesome. The support and recognition has been unbelievable. I¹m quite exhausted but I¹ll be buzzing for the next few days.
My goal was to set the double world first and Aviva and I have done it. It¹s an amazing feeling to become the first woman to sail solo, non-stop both ways around the world. You just can¹t buy an experience like this, it¹s awesome!²

British yachtswoman Dee Caffari, 36, arrives in Les Sables d'Olonne, France onboard Aviva as she sets a new world record as the first woman to have successfully completed a solo, non-stop circumnavigation both ways around the world.


However, the race was not without incident as Caffari was forced to use all her tenacity and determination to battle her way to the finish line with her severely damaged mainsail looking like a shredded Œstring vest¹. The mainsail is a solo skipper¹s key sail that provides the majority of the power to the 60 foot carbon fibre racing machine but since the Southern Ocean Caffari has had continuous problems caused by the sail falling apart.

In an effort to keep the sail in one piece Caffari even resorted to using the skin staples from her medial kit and had to cut up one of her additional sails (the code 5) to patch the most badly affected areas. However, three months of ocean racing with hurricane force winds and enormous waves have left the sail in tatters. Nonetheless, the British skipper kept her eyes on the ultimate prize, to set a double world first and make history.

Caffari added:

³The mainsail constantly caused me concern. You just have to look at it to see what a dreadful state it¹s in but I managed to struggle on. I never let it get the better of me. I had an opportunity here to make history so a disintegrating mainsail wasn¹t going to get in my way. It¹s been frustrating and tiring but Aviva and I are here now and I¹m on cloud nine!²

The Vendée Globe has been littered with drama and excitement, with nineteen yachts retired from thirty starters making the race a war of attrition. It has been a battle that Caffari has bravely fought to reach her ultimate goal.

The solo skipper added:

³The Vendée Globe has a reputation as the ŒEverest of the Seas¹ and this edition has certainly lived up to its name. There was disaster and drama at every turn with dismastings, Yann Elies¹s broken leg and Jean Le Cam¹s capsize. It was hard not to get distracted but I just had to keep going. My focus was getting Aviva and I home safe and sound and with the support of my team I¹ve managed that so I¹m over the moon.²

Sarah Loughran, Head of Corporate Sponsorship at Aviva commented:

³Dee¹s performance has been inspirational. She set her sights on the double world first and we¹ve backed her all the way. Aviva and our employees in 27 markets across the world are very proud of her today.  This race has been a testament to her determination, resolve and tenacity. We¹re proud to be recognised as part of the team behind her great individual performance²
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