First woman to sail solo round the world both ways

Dee Caffari made history today when she became the first woman to sail around twice around the world in different directions, both against and now with the prevailing winds and currents.

While her achievement of 2005 was impressive in itself, finishing sixth in this epic Vendee Globe race today, crossing the finish line at 13h12min57sec dwarves that feat, considering her first solo race in an Open 60 was only in November 2007.

Just three years ago, Dee Caffari sailed around the world against the prevailing winds and currents taking 178 days 03 hours 05 minutes and now on 16th February 2009, the British sailor has done it again, but this time from west to east in a race? A remarkable performance as only fifteen solo sailors have accomplished this feat in less than 100 days aboard a monohull. 

It is a fairytale finish for Dee Caffari, considering that at the start on 9th November, she did nothing to hide her lack of racing experience. In two years of preparation with one aboard her new monohull, she clearly made a lot of progress. Her Owen Clarke designed boat, the sistership to Mike Golding’s, from the same mould and learning from some of the problems Golding had, proved to be very powerful, but Dee managed to adapt and stay with the twelve frontrunners until the Canaries.

A slight tactical mistake, the same as Marc Guillemot made, stopped her in her tracks in the lee of the islands, but the solo sailor was not going to give up: sixteenth at the Equator, she kept up the pace all the way down the Atlantic and she was in the same place at the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope.  With boats retiring in the Kerguelens, Dee Caffari chose a cautious approach and sailed north of the islands along with Brian Thompson. Eleventh at Cape Leeuwin, the two Brits would stay on the same route almost up to the New Zealand gate, where she discovered that her mainsail was disintegrating? Arnaud Boissières was close by, but Brian Thompson made his getaway.

It was at the rounding of the Horn that the three got together, as a very short, but violent storm hit Tierra del Fuego, forcing the three solo sailors to shelter or run free.  Dee Caffari was in seventh place, when she passed the les Estados island. There were 7000 miles to cover and the condition of her mainsail continued to decline? The Horn Trio continued up the coast of Brazil, but separated when Arnaud Boissières got left behind at the latitude of Uruguay, while Brian Thompson made the most of the power of his machine.  However, Dee made it back to within 200 miles of Marc Guillemot when he crossed the Equator.  The Doldrums were very difficult for Dee Caffari and cost her dearly: she lost more than 200 miles in a few hours.


Nothing could affect the determination of the British sailor and the climb back up the North Atlantic was to offer her the opportunity to make an impressive recovery: she clawed back mile after mile and was just sixty miles behind Brian as they entered the Bay of Biscay.  Dee Caffari completed the race sailing  27 907 miles on the water at an average speed of 11.74 knots.


Dee Caffari’s times

Crossing the Equator: 13d 21h 53′

Crossing the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope: 28d 19h 43′

Crossing the longitude of Cape Leeuwin : 42d 07h 28′

Crossing the International Date Line: 50d 14h 58′

Rounding Cape Horn: 67d 22h 13′

Crossing the Eqautor: 83d 23h 08′

Finish in Les Sables d’Olonne: 99d 1h10min57sec


Final rankings

1-Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) 84d 03h 09′ 08”

2-Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) 89d 09h 39′ 35” (including 11h redress)

3-Marc Guillemot (Safran) 95d 03h 19′ 36” (including 82h redress)

4-Samantha Davies (Roxy) 95d 04h 39′ 01” (including 32h redress)

5-Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar) 98d 20h 29′ 55”

6-Dee Caffari (Aviva) 99d 1h10min57sec