Solo French Yachtswoman circumnavigates southern hemisphere the 'wrong way'

French yachtswoman Maud de Fontenoy capped her 151-day attempt to circumnavigate the southern hemisphere against the prevailing winds and currents by crossing a virtual finish line off Reunion at 1121GMT yesterday,14 March.

Known previously for rowing her way solo across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Fontenoy said she was delighted she had finally brought her five-month journey, which saw her lose a mast last month, to a successful end:

‘It’s surreal. I still can’t quite believe that it’s finally the end after so many testing experiences, and losing my mast on February 10. Thousands of times during the past five months I’ve looked at the map and a thousand times I’ve doubted. But I’m there, or just about. I’m staying vigilant though. The wind is strong and my rigging is on its last legs.’

She added: ‘My brave little boat saved me. It will be hard to come back on
dry land.’

Fontenoy was accompanied by a naval squadron, which blasted its horn and
let off fireworks to celebrate her achievement. Thousands of well-wishers are also expected to gather at the Reunion harborside to meet the Frenchwoman, who began her attempt on October 15, 2006. Fontenoy, 29, will now spend the rest of her journey coasting toward the harbor at Pointe des Galets on the west coast of the island.