By crossing the finish line of the ancestor of the Vendée Globe in Les Sables d’Olonne this Thursday at 21:43:47 CET, the South African sailor Kirsten Neuschäfer has achieved one of the greatest accomplishments in ocean racing. Winner of the Golden Globe race, without assistance or technology, after 235 days, 5 hours, 44 minutes and 4 seconds of racing (final time will be determined after the calculation of penalties for using fuel and bonuses), Kirsten became the first woman to win a solo round-the-world race under sail. This achievement was celebrated in Les Sables d’Olonne, now more than ever the world capital of single-handed ocean racing.
At 40 years of age, the South African Kirsten Neuschäfer completed an eight-month long journey, alone in the face of the elements, without contact, collecting rainwater to survive. Her feat is all the more impressive as her world tour was marked by a rescue. In the heart of the Indian Ocean, she helped Finnish sailor Tapio Lehtinen. Kirsten welcomed him on her boat before he was transferred to a cargo ship and Kirsten continued her journey.
Kirsten’s performance is as unprecedented as it is impressive. The first woman to round Cape Horn in a race last February, she also became the first to win a race around the world. Many in the world of ocean racing are congratulating the South African. Yann Eliès, a regular in the sailing world, praises the sailor who “loves adventure with a capital A“.
“What she has achieved is incredible,” said Catherine Chabaud, the first woman to complete the Vendée Globe (1996-1997). “There is something extraordinary in the air,” said the sailor.