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All-female team to take on the Jules Verne Trophy

by Mallory Group 13 Jun 2023 10:56 PDT
The Famous Project, led by Alexia Barrier and co-skipper Dee Caffari, aims to break the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the planet, and set a world-first record for an all-female crew © The Famous Project

Alexia Barrier has unveiled her ambition to break the Jules Verne Trophy with an all-female crew.

At a VIP event at UNESCO in Paris on Tuesday 13 June, the French yachtswoman announced her crew pre-selection, confirmed her boats for the three year campaign and record attempt, and unveiled two founding partners to the campaign, CIC and IDEC.

Considered one of the toughest ocean challenges in the world, no woman has so far been part of any crew to conquer the legendary Jules Verne Trophy, the prestigious prize for the fastest circumnavigation of the planet.

25 years ago, Tracy Edwards and the team of Royal & SunAlliance first attempted to break one of the last records left standing for an all-female crew. Now Barrier has created 'The Famous Project', bringing together the best female professional sailors from around the world, and with the boat that holds the current record, is aiming to make history and disrupt this all-male legacy.

On standby from October 2025, Barrier and co-skipper Dee Caffari, with a crew drawn from around the globe, will race the 100-foot Ultime trimaran IDEC Sport on a timed circumnavigation of the planet. The current record, set in 2017 by Francis Joyon on the same boat, stands at 40 days 23 hours 30 minutes and 30 seconds.

Alexia Barrier, skipper of The Famous Project: "We want to make the women of the planet 'Famous'! We want to shine a light on those who dare and to inspire others to realise their dreams and ambitions. Over the next three years, the Famous Project will highlight inspiring projects, both large and small. Ultimately we not only want to be the first ever all-female team to complete the Jules Verne Trophy route, we want to break the record at the same time."

A celebrated offshore skipper for over 20 years, Alexia has sailed the equivalent of 10 laps around the planet, completing the iconic solo, non-stop Vendée Globe in 2021 and has raced across the Atlantic no less than 18 times. Caffari is a record-breaking round the world sailor with six circumnavigations under her belt and is the only woman to have sailed around the world solo, in both directions. Alexia and Dee have put together a crew line-up with an unrivalled depth of experience in women's offshore sailing: 12 circumnavigations of the planet, 54 transatlantic races, three transpacific races, 28 world records and 16 championship titles.

Dee Caffari, co-skipper of The Famous Project said: ??"This project will break down barriers. It will be the pinnacle of my career, a special record that few people have achieved or even attempted before. It's a great sporting challenge, but the project in itself is so much bigger. This is about creating an impact for women all around the world."

Following an intensive pre-selection process in the mountains and on the water in the first half of 2023, the current crew have been handpicked to ensure a complementary mix of experiences. Selection and training will continue throughout 2023 and 2024, with new talent from Olympic dinghy racers to seasoned offshore skippers introduced to the team. Each crew member excels in her field and is an essential asset to the success of this challenge.

The current crew training and racing with Alexia and Dee are:

  • Helena Darvelid (SWE), 12 world speed sailing records
  • Sara Hastreiter (USA), round the world sailor and mountain adventurer
  • Elodie Jane Mettraux (SUI), leading multihull specialist
  • Joan Mulloy (IRL), offshore solo specialist
  • Marie Riou (FRA), The Ocean Race winner
  • Marie Tabarly (FRA), skipper of Pen Duick VI

The all-female crew will be supported by a squad of multihull specialists led by Jonny Malbon (GBR) as Team Director, and an expert team of coaches including Brian Thompson (GBR), Sidney Gavignet (FRA), and Alex Pella (ESP).

The Famous Project will be running a two-boat campaign. The former Spindrift MOD70 - renamed Limosa - will be the training and selection platform. The team has also been supported by IDEC and has been given use of the Ultime IDEC Sport (formerly Groupama 3, Banque Populaire VII). The boat is the current holder of the Jules Verne Trophy Record and three-time winner of the Route du Rhum.

To create a lasting impact, Barrier and her crew will develop education and scientific programmes around ocean health. "The Famous Project is more than attempting to set the Trophy Jules Verne record," commented Barrier. "Over the coming months we will unveil the scientific program we will be undertaking with our partner, UNESCO, as well as a global educational program, which will bring to life the importance of ocean health for school children. The Famous Project will leave an impact for many years to come."

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