April 28, 2023

South African Woman Makes Sailing History

Kirsten Neuschäfer – a sailor from Gqeberha, Eastern Cape – has made history as the first woman to win a solo, round-the-world yacht race called the Golden Globe.

The 39-year-old arrived in Les Sables-d’Olonne, France on Thursday evening, 27 April, after spending nearly 235 days alone at sea. Interestingly, Neuschäfer was the only female competitor among the entrants.

“We are so proud of Kirsten. She has made not only the country’s sailing community but the whole of South Africa proud,” South Africa Sailing president, Michael Robinson, happily told an international publication the following day.

Sixteen contestants set off on a monumental 48 000 km adventure on 4 September last year however, by the time Neuschäfer crossed the finish line, only two other contestants – Abhilash Tomy and Michael Guggenberger – remained to finish the race.

Simon Curwen arrived ten hours ahead of Neuschäfer but considering he had needed to make a land stop to repair his boat, Curwen was relegated to the Chichester class.

One sailor – Tapio Lehtinen – was stranded approximately 724 km southeast of South Africa when his boat sank two months into the race. Neuschäfer – who was 152 km away and the closest competitor to him at the time, diverted her route to give assistance and was able to pick him up on 19 November.

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