Dee keeps sponsor, and gets 2 new boats!

It may be blowing a gale outside ExCel this morning, Thursday 11 January, but the sun is certainly shining on Dee Caffari. Fresh from winning the Raymarine/YJA Yachtsman of the Year award last Tuesday, Dee announced her new campaign at a press conference this morning. She is to sail solo round the world again – this time the right way – on an Open 60 in the Vendee Globe 2008/09. Aviva Ocean Racing will again sponsor her campaign.

Moving from a Challenge 72 to an Open 60, one of the most competitive classes in the racing world, is no mean feat. Broadly equivalent to switching from an HGV truck to a Formula 1 car, the new project will be a definite case of ‘back to school’, Caffari admitted. She more than proved her mettle by succeeding in her bid to be the first woman to sail non stop round-the-world ‘the wrong way’, against prevailing winds and currents, last year, but critics might say that she didn’t do so particularly fast. To be competitive in the Vendee Globe – a 26,000nm marathon against the likes of Mike Golding and Conrad Humphreys – she’ll have to significantly step up the pace.

Aviva have bought Conrad Humphrey’s Vendee 04 Open 60 ‘Hello Moto’ – pictured, freshly branded up – for Dee to get to grips with in the first phases of her training, but are also commissioning Merfyn Owen, of Owen Clarke Designs, to build a new Open 60 for the ‘Globe’ itself.

‘I’m really excited about this campaign’, said Dee, ‘but I’m not under any illusions about just how tough the next step will be, and how steep the learning curve is. It’s all about raising my game.’ Although her plans have been kept relatively quiet until today, much has been taking place behind the scenes, and with a training boat, sponsor, team and designer, she is in a good position to prepare herself thoroughly for the task ahead:

‘It’s a monumental goal, but I’m on my way.’