Dee Caffari finishes Aviva Challenge

Dee Caffari, onboard Aviva, crossed the official finish line on 18 May 2006 at 17:55 pm.

Yachtswoman Dee Caffari, 33, has triumphed over extreme isolation, lethal icebergs, mountainous waves, vicious storms and hurricane force winds to set a new world record as the first woman to sail round the world solo, non-stop against the prevailing winds and currents.

Caffari’s record-breaking 29,100 mile voyage lasted 178 days, 3 hours, 6 minutes and 15 seconds. She crossed the official finish line in sight of the observer from the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) off Lizard Point, UK, and completed a passage which ensures her a place in maritime history.

'When I crossed the line I was overwhelmed with emotion, it was the proudest moment of my life and becoming the first woman to complete this voyage is a great honour. I have been dreaming about this moment since the idea was first born, visualising it when things got tough and thinking about how it would feel, and when I did it a huge wave of relief and happiness washed over me,' said Caffari.

'It was a voyage of absolute extremes, and it pushed my limits further than I had imagined. There were times when I couldn’t see an end to it and I questioned whether I could do it. One of the hardest things was the mental challenge of dealing with it all on my own, but the support from my shore team and the outstanding performance of the yacht helped me bounce back when it got really tough. Now I’m physically and mentally exhausted but I don’t think I’ve ever been happier and I can’t wait to celebrate the achievement surrounded by family and friends!'

Sir Chay Blyth, Caffari’s mentor and the first person to complete the same arduous voyage in 1971, commented:

'Dee has demonstrated an astonishing range of skills and attributes to complete this remarkable voyage. Her determination is second to none and she has inspired people all over the world to take on their own challenges.'

Patrick Snowball, executive director of Aviva, the international savings, investment and insurance group, Caffari’s sponsor said:

'On behalf of everyone at Aviva, I congratulate Dee on this incredible achievement. In the past six months Dee has inspired thousands of people around the world with her daily endeavours. Aviva is proud to have been part of the team behind this magnificent solo performance.'

Sailing round the world against the prevailing winds and currents has been so hard because the elements were literally against Caffari for much of the voyage. The straight-line course around the world from east to west is approximately 24,500, but Caffari was forced to sail an extra 4600 miles, illustrating the difficulty of sailing upwind and the need to regularly change course to avoid dangerous storms when she was in the Southern Ocean. Heading from east to west round the world in this way also places immense strain on the yacht.

'Sailing against the wind is an uncompromising and often brutal point of sail, and Dee has met the physical challenge time and time again, but her ability to take on complex electrical and mechanical repairs and maintenance in highly stressful situations has also been vital in her success,' says Aviva Challenge project director Andrew Roberts.

'We have sent 50 Challenge yachts across the Southern Ocean and the conditions Dee encountered were the worst we have ever seen. Yet when she rounded the Cape of Good Hope and returned to the Atlantic Aviva was in better condition than any of the other Challenge yachts that have sailed through this most hostile ocean, despite the pounding. Dee’s seamanship and attention to detail, not just in the Southern Ocean but throughout the voyage, has made this remarkable achievement possible.'

Caffari will now make her way to Ocean Village in Southampton, UK where HRH The Princess Royal, Patron of The Challenge Business International Limited, will welcome her back to dry land at the end of her marathon journey. HRH The Princess Royal was the first person to welcome home Dee’s mentor, Sir Chay Blyth, when he became the first person to complete this voyage back in 1971. Thousands of people are expected to celebrate her homecoming which is scheduled to be 12.00 noon (BST) Sunday 21 May 2006.

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