Second British woman nears finish of round-the-world race

Dee Caffari will be the first woman to circumnavigate world solo in both directions

Shortly before Peter Caffari died in April 1998, he grew exasperated by his daughter's continual expressions of desire to quit her job as a PE teacher and be a professional sailor, and asked her simply: "Are you going to carry on talking about it? Or are you going to go and do it?"

This morning, Dee Caffari is expected to answer that question in emphatic style, by becoming the first woman to sail solo both ways around the world. Having circumnavigated the globe against the prevailing winds and currents in 2006, her journey into the record books could come today after 99 days and more than 27,000 miles at sea competing in the Vendee Globe race. For her achievement in 2006, Caffari was appointed MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for her contribution to sailing.

Last night, she was 130 nautical miles from the finish line in France was on course to arrive at about 5am. Her final position is expected to be either fifth or, more likely, sixth from an original field of 30 international yachtsmen and women. But, in simply finishing, the 36-year-old has made history.

Speaking to The Independent from the satellite phone on board her boat, Aviva, Caffari said: "Obviously, I knew when I started the race back in November that, if I finished, I would be setting a new record, but I had to put it out of my mind and concentrate on the race itself. It's only in the last 24 hours, when it started to feel real and I realised it was within my grasp, that I've allowed myself to think about it.

"It has been really nice knowing that, no matter where I finish, there is an achievement to be had by just completing the course. Obviously, finishing in the top three would have been nice, but I'm happy to have the world record."

Fellow Briton Samantha Davies crossed the line in third place just before 1am on Saturday, following the wake Dame Ellen MacArthur, the only other British woman to have finished on a podium usually reserved for French men. During her 96 days at sea, Davies came close to catastrophe when she was knocked unconscious in the Southern Ocean during a storm. Just before stepping off her boat she said she was looking forward to "a cold beer and a warm shower".

Caffari's desires are similar. Yesterday she said: "A hot shower sounds lovely and I'm also looking forward to buying fresh fruit because I've been eating freeze-dried food for three months. I'm looking forward to getting home and seeing my boyfriend, Harry, and all of my friends. I've got a lot of catching up to do because I've missed a few events like weddings and parties while I've been out at sea, not to mention Christmas and my own birthday. But I knew that I would miss these things when I started so I've got no complaints.

"This is the most intense thing I've ever done. When I went against the current, it was more of an individual thing, but this has been a race and I've really pushed my body to its limits to complete this. I think that adrenaline will get me off the boat and to all of the parties but it's not until after that I will sit down and actually realise what I have done. I think it will be a long time before it sinks in properly."

Caffari lives on the south coast with her partner, Harry Spedding.

Dee Caffari 'The storms made me realise how vulnerable I was'

*In November 2000, Dee Caffari first encountered the Vendée Globe race when, in her first job in sailing, she was part of Mike Golding's race team.

Back then, her job was a modest one – cleaning the bottom of Golding's boat. Eight years later, she first set sail as a Vendée competitor, and today expects to finish the race.

"I never dreamt that I would ever be in his position – actually in the race. And yet here I am," she said yesterday.

In late 2005, Caffari, from Fareham, Hampshire, took to the sea alone in a bid to become the first woman to sail non-stop around the world the "wrong way" – against the winds and currents. And in May 2006, after six months at sea, she sailed back into Southampton. Her place in the record books was assured, and an MBE in the Queen's Birthday honours list followed.

Today, she expects to set another record, becoming the first woman to sail both ways around the world.

Of her three months at sea in the Vendée Globe, the 36-year-old said: "It has been really difficult and at times I really struggledwith storms that made me realise how vulnerable I was. But the good times made it all worthwhile. The send-off we got in France was amazing ... At sea there were amazing sights, such as wonderful sunsets and being so close to amazing creatures such as whales."

Sam Davies 'This really is a dream finish'

*In a gruelling event that is widely regarded as the toughest ocean race in the world, Samantha Davies – one of only two women in the race – could be forgiven for adopting an "only look out for number one" approach.

But, despite the highly competitive nature of the Vendée Globe race, one charitable moment of Davies' 96-day voyage stood out. Having already suffered the solo sailor's worst nightmare when she was knockedunconscious in a storm, she made a 32-hour detour to help rescue her rival, Yann Elies, who had broken his leg.

She finished third, after having the diversion deducted from her finishing time, making it 95 days, four hours and 39 minutes. "I never ever thought I might finish in third place, not at all. I was hoping to make the top 10. This really is a dream finish," she said.

Davies is only the second British woman to have finished in the top three; in 2001 Dame Ellen MacArthur came second. Despite the extreme danger the 34-year-old braved on the water, Davies doesn't take herself too seriously. One mid-race entry in her video blog consisted of her dancing on her yacht, Roxy, to the strains of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun". She crossed the finishing line just before 1am on Saturday, in time to spend Valentine's Day with her French boyfriend, Romain Attanasio.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice