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Kirsten Neuschäfer Makes History With Golden Globe Race Victory

28th April 2023
Kirsten Neuschäfer waves the flag of her Rainbow Nation homeland South Africa as she crossed the Golden Globe Race finish line in Ls Sables on Thursday night 27 April
Kirsten Neuschäfer waves the flag of her Rainbow Nation homeland South Africa as she crossed the Golden Globe Race finish line in Ls Sables on Thursday night 27 April Credit: Golden Globe Race

Kirsten Neuschäfer has made history as the first woman — and first South African — to win a solo round-the-world sailing race with her victory in the 2022-23 Golden Globe Race on Thursday (27 April).

She also took line honours when she arrived on her 36-foot Cape George cutter Minnehaha in Les Sables-d’Olonne in western France to a hero’s welcome, as Scuttlebutt Sailing News reports.

It marks the end of an eventful nearly eight months at sea, non-stop across 30,000 nautical miles for the 40-year-old from Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), which saw her as the first in the GGR fleet to round Cape Horn — as well as divert from her race to rescue fellow competitor Tapio Lehtinen when his boat sank south of Cape Town in November.

In the final days, Neuschäfer was put under pressure by the challenge of second-placed Abhilash Tomy, the GGR veteran making his big comeback after severely injuring his back when his yacht rolled and dismasted in the Southern Indian Ocean in the 2018 edition of the race.

But Neuschäfer pulled away on the home stretch, with a 135-mile lead on the experienced Indian sailor when she crossed the line on Thursday night.

Out of the 16 sailors who set out from Les Sables last September, only three — Neuschäfer, Tomy and Austria’s Michael Guggenberger, who is still some 1,800 miles from the finish — remained in contention.

Two others, Simon Curwen from the UK and South Africa’s Jeremy Bagshaw, dropped down to the Chichester class after their stops disqualified them from the main race, with the former taking that title on arrival just ahead of Neuschäfer.

Scuttlebutt Sailing News has much more on the story HERE.

Golden Globe Yacht Race Live Tracker 2022/3

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About the Golden Globe Race

The Golden Globe Race is the original round the world yacht race. In 1968, while man was preparing to take his first steps on the moon, a mild mannered and modest young man was setting out on his own record breaking voyage of discovery. Off shore yacht racing changed forever with adventurers and sailors, inspired by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, following in his pioneering wake. Nine men started the first solo non-stop sailing race around the World. Only one finished. History was made. Navigating with a sextant, paper charts and an accurate and reliable time piece, Sir Robin navigated around the world. In 2018, to celebrate 50 years since that first record breaking achievement, the Golden Globe Race was resurrected. It instantly caught the attention of the worlds media as well as adventures, captivated by the spirit and opportunity. The original race is back.

The Golden Globe Race: Stepping back to the golden age of solo sailing

Like the original Sunday Times event back in 1968/9, the 2018 Golden Globe Race was very simple. Depart Les Sables d'Olonne, France on July 1st 2018 and sail solo, non-stop around the world, via the five Great Capes and return to Les Sables d'Olonne. Entrants are limited to use the same type of yachts and equipment that were available to Robin Knox-Johnston in that first race. That means sailing without modern technology or benefit of satellite-based navigation aids.

Competitors must sail in production boats between 32ft and 36ft overall (9.75 10.97m) designed prior to 1988 and having a full-length keel with rudder attached to their trailing edge. These yachts will be heavily built, strong and steady, similar in concept to Robin's 32ft vessel Suhaili.

In contrast to the current professional world of elite ocean racing, this edition travels back to a time known as the 'Golden Age' of solo sailing. Suhaili was a slow and steady 32ft double-ended ketch based on a William Atkins ERIC design. She is heavily built of teak and carried no computers, GPS, satellite phone nor water-maker, and Robin completed the challenge without the aid of modern-day shore-based weather routing advice. He had only a wind-up chronometer and a barograph to face the world alone, and caught rainwater to survive, but was at one with the ocean, able to contemplate and absorb all that this epic voyage had to offer.

This anniversary edition of the Golden Globe Race is a celebration of the original event, the winner, his boat and that significant world-first achievement. Competitors in this race will be sailing simple boats using basic equipment to guarantee a satisfying and personal experience. The challenge is pure and very raw, placing the adventure ahead of winning at all costs. It is for 'those who dare', just as it was for Knox-Johnston.

They will be navigating with sextant on paper charts, without electronic instruments or autopilots. They will hand-write their logs and determine the weather for themselves.

Only occasionally will they talk to loved ones and the outside world when long-range high frequency and ham radios allow.

It is now possible to race a monohull solo around the world in under 80 days, but sailors entered in this race will spend around 300 days at sea, challenging themselves and each other. The 2018 Golden Globe Race was a fitting tribute to the first edition and it's winner, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

Background on Don McIntyre (61) Race Founder

Don is an inveterate sailor and recognised as one of Australia s greatest explorers. Passionate about all forms of adventure and inspiring others, his desire is to recreate the Golden Age of solo sailing. Don finished 2nd in class in the 1990-91 BOC Challenge solo around the world yacht race. In 2010, he led the 4-man Talisker Bounty Boat challenge to re-enact the Mutiny on the Bounty voyage from Tonga to West Timor, in a simil