OSLO, Norway -- Dee Caffari became the first woman to sail alone and nonstop the "wrong way" around the world Thursday after an often harrowing 179 days at sea.
The 33-year-old British former school teacher crossed the finish line in the English Channel, claiming the record as the first woman to make the solo trip against prevailing winds and currents.
The record must be ratified by the World Speed Sailing Records
Council before it becomes official.
Caffari set off from the English Channel on Nov. 22 aboard her
72-foot yacht Aviva on a 28,000-mile voyage around the world from
east to west.
Sailors call it "beating against the wind," because the yachts
are subjected to near-constant lashing from wind and waves.
"The most difficult thought I have to get my head around is the
fact that tomorrow Aviva and I will sail into the history books
alongside others that I have read books about and admired from
afar," Caffari wrote by e-mail Wednesday.
She claimed the record on the same day that a 32-year-old Dutch
sailor, Hans Horrevoets, died after being swept from the deck of
the yacht ABN AMRO TWO during the Volvo Ocean Race, another
In a statement, Caffari's team expressed sympathy and said "all
those involved in the Volvo Ocean Race will be in all our
Caffari's voyage took her through some of the world's harshest
waters, including 77 days in the treacherous Southern Ocean of
Antarctica. That region is notorious for its icebergs, storms and
waves of up to 60 feet.
During that part of the trip, her team said she sailed in
storms, with winds up to 63 miles per hour for more than seven
days, and endured gales for 34 days.
"To be honest I am not really enjoying it anymore," she wrote
on Jan. 31, after seven days of gales. "I have been in worse; it
is just the relentless pounding that is winning in the battle to
wear me down."
On her way, she sailed down the Atlantic, and along the coast of
Latin America, rounding the waters of Cape Horn after 44 days.
From there, Caffari crossed the Southern Ocean, where, just
after the halfway mark of her voyage, her mast was struck by
lightning and damaged crucial wind instruments Feb. 17.
When she finally had calm enough weather to climb the 95-foot
mast to make repairs, a squall hit the boat, trapping her aloft for
She wrote that she spent that hour "taking a beating and being
thrown around the rig" before she managed to get down.
In early April, Caffari passed southern Africa's Cape of Good
Hope, turning north toward home. She spent about a week trapped in
the heat in the doldrums near the equator.
"This morning I had got to the point where I just wanted to sit
on deck and cry, in frustration, in tiredness and just because I
was still out here trying to get home," she wrote on her Internet
log of April 30. "The last two days had felt more difficult than
the entire journey so far."
Two days later, she finally caught the winds that would take her
back to the English Channel.
Caffari started sailing with her father as a child, and, after a
short stint as a physical education teacher, pursued professional