Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Dee Caffari Sails into History in Vendee Globe Sailboat Race

Here is an adventure way outside of the cruising yachtsmans' goals, but noteworthy nonetheless for the fantastic achievement of this single handed English sailor Dee Caffari.

Crossing the finish line in Les Sable D'Olonne at 13.13 GMT on february 16th., with her main in tatters, Dee Caffari becomes the first woman in history to sail around the globe single handed in both directions. She did it first(the 'wrong way around' in 2005) and now completed the toughest single handed race, the Vendee Globe in sixth position. Another English girl Sam Davies finished fourth, two places ahead of her. This really is a major achievement considering that out of the thirty Open 60 starters, nineteen have had to retire.

The following is the final entry from Dees' diary as she approaches the finish line:

'I can hear her, yes it is faint at the moment but I can definitely hear a rather large lady tuning up ready to let rip into song. And there in front of me is the finish line against the backdrop of Les Sables D'Olonne.

I am already feeling slightly emotional that this incredible journey is about to come to an end, although both skipper and boat are tired and ready for a rest.

'Aviva' has done a wonderful job at keeping me safe and sailing me quickly whenever she could -and during the course of this race I have developed as a racing offshore sailor. To be still racing after so many miles, still trying to catch the boat in front has kept me focused and determined and keen as anything to stay in this class.

In the space of two years I have learnt so much that I would relish the opportunity to have another four years experience of this boat, another four years confidence and come back to the Vendee Globe so see how I fair next time.

A huge contributing factor to keeping me pushing day after day are the many messages of support I receive from around the world. It is truly amazing and they really do make a difference onboard when I read them. They pick me up when I am feeling down and encourage me when things are good.

I would like to say a huge thank you to all who have written, together we have just achieved a great thing. We have finished the Vendee Globe Race and now I have become the only female to sail single handed, non stop around the world in both directions.'

Extract courtesy Dee Caffari and images courtesy Aviva.

Simple words, but bursting with so much emotion coming up to the finish line.

You can see from the accompanying images the shredded conditon of her mainsail at the finish and can only wonder. It started delaminating 10,000 nautical miles out, in the Southern Ocean and she had to drop it nine times to patch it. This is all the more remarkable as she was still racing and averaged close on twelve knots for the whole race.

Also note the size of the Southern Ocean waves in the trough as she sails south of New Zealand.

Three cheers for women in sailing.

Several boats are yet to finish and you can catch up with current results as they happen on www.vendeeglobe.org

You can read more about ocean sailing in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website http://www.sailboat2adventure.com

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