the pioneering epic of Kirsten Neuschäfer, winner of the Golden Globe Race
The South African is the first sailor to win a race around the world solo….
The South African is the first sailor to win a race around the world solo.
The new offshore racing hero is Kirsten Neuschäfer. The South African sailor made history on Thursday by becoming the first woman to win a race around the world solo, when she arrived in Les Sables-d’Olonne (Vendée) at the head of the Golden Globe Race.
The 40-year-old sailor won after 235 days at sea of a crazy epic where the 16 competitors at the start had to leave from Vendée before p***ing through the three reference capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin, Horn), non-stop, ***istance and modern means of navigation.
Smiling and barefoot, Kirsten Neuschäfer crossed the finish line off Les Sables-d’Olonne on Thursday at 9.43 p.m., aboard her small 1988 monohull called Minnehaha, which withstood numerous storms for eight months. .
The joy of Kirsten Neuschäfer on the pontoon. LOIC VENANCE / AFP
“It’s amazing, it’s a lot after all these months alone“, she said, setting foot on the ground in front of a crowd of Sablais. “I’m very moved and honored that there are so many people here and I don’t think I can experience such a thing a second time in my life.“, she added before hugging her mother to the applause.
Among the crowd, navigator Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, 77, winner of the previous edition of this vintage adventure, in 2019, came to greet a “grand championof ocean racing.
“It’s a very tough race, there’s no communication, we’re not pushed. You have to have a very strong mind and I think Kirsten is one of the people who have a very strong mind.“, he said.
On February 15, Neuschäfer had already become the first woman in history to round Cape Horn at the head of a circumnavigation of the globe, just weeks after rescuing her Finnish competitor Tapio Lethinen, shipwrecked off the coast of South Africa. .
Originally from Port-Elizabeth, she has been a professional sailor since 2006, specializing in the transfer and delivery of sailboats by sea. Before the start of the race in September, her first trip around the world, she told AFP the ‘other “great journey» of his life at only 22 years old: a cycle route from Europe to his country of origin, 15,000 km to cover.
The South African signs her most prestigious victory in the Vendée. LOIC VENANCE / AFP
“When it gets really hard, I read a novel so I can escape my own thoughts and get into someone else’s.she had said.
The only woman to have taken the start, she was joined at the finish line by sailor and MEP Catherine Chabaud, the first woman to sail solo around the world, during the Vendée Globe 1996-1997.
Vintage Vendee Globe
“It’s just awesome. It’s good for sailing and for women“, she rejoiced. “Women who sail do not see themselves as women who sail, but just as p***ionate individuals. It’s a beautiful message“, she commented.
With her victory, Neuschäfer entered the pantheon of great offshore sailors of modern history alongside Florence Arthaud, Isabelle Autissier and Ellen MacArthur.
Of the 16 starters in the Golden Globe Race, only two other sailors were still in contention on Thursday to finish the race. The Indian Abhilash Tomy was due to arrive in Vendée in the coming days while the Austrian Michael Guggenberger was still off the Canary Islands.
Briton Simon Curwen crossed the line at midday but could no longer claim final victory because he made a stopover in a Chilean port during his journey for repairs.
During the first edition of this race, between 1968 and 1969, the Briton Robin Knox-Johnston was the only one of the 9 sailors lined up at the start to complete his journey, becoming at the same time the first man to have sailed alone around the world without stopover. An epic which then inspired the creation of a certain Vendée Globe.