Dee Caffari: the record-breaking yachtswoman inspiring the next generation of sailors

WE TALK to Dee Caffari about her record-breaking sailing career and her passion to work with young enthusiasts in the sport.



Dee Caffari

Dee Caffari has sailed around the world five times.


DEE CAFFARI is an inspiration to women and sports enthusiasts around the globe. She has sailed around the world five times, is the first woman to have sailed single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions and the only woman to have sailed non-stop around the world a total of three times. She has received an MBE for her achievements and continues to inspire with her charity work which involves special attention to young people who are interested in the sport.


In this exclusive interview Dee talked about how her passion for sailing began and how sharing her enthusiasm for the sport with others is just as important to her as breaking records. 


When did you first start sailing and who were your biggest supporters and mentors in the early years?


I first started sailing at University. I remember breaking the ice in Yeadon Tarn, Leeds, to do a capsize drill. Sailing remained a hobby and something I enjoyed but never dreamed I would go on to sail around the world a few times.


My father loved the seas and oceans with a passion and despite my mother being scared of water she took every summer holiday on a boat with the family and encouraged my sister and I to swim, water ski and windsurf despite her fear of the water. My family are very supportive even if they do not understand why I take on these challenges sometimes.


My biggest inspirational figure would be Sir Peter Blake. There are many disciplines in sailing and he managed to excel at all of them and combine sailing with the environment. He also inspired a whole nation to support him and his team by wearing red socks, a true leader and someone people took to their hearts.


Dee Caffari MBE

Dee started sailing at university and has gone on to fulfil all of the early promise she showed in the sport.


What gave you the ambition to sail around the world and could you tell us about some of the records you have set in pursuing this dream?


Life is about opportunity and the biggest decision you can make is choosing what opportunities to grab with both hands and which ones you choose to let pass you by. I had an opportunity and I grabbed it with both hands. I didn’t think I could do it at first but I had tremendous support and other people believed in me so I wanted to do them proud and prove their belief worthwhile.


I am very fortunate to be the first and still the only woman to sail solo, non-stop around the world against the prevailing winds and currents. I am also the only woman to sail solo, non-stop around the world in both directions and the only woman to complete three non-stop circumnavigations.


Vendee Globe

A patron of St Marys Junior Sailing Club, Dee also works with Oman Sail which campaigns for equal opportunities for Arab women in the sport of sailing.


What have been some of your other biggest achievements in the sport?


Being able to give back in important to me and I am proud to be the patron of St Marys Junior Sailing Club near my home. I love seeing the children enjoying the water and sailing their dinghies and developing their skills. I also work with Oman Sail on the women’s programme which is breaking new ground trying to fight stereotypes in the region and allow equal opportunities for Arab women in the sport of sailing. It is truly inspirational work.


How did it feel to have your successes and work recognised by receiving an MBE?


I was overwhelmed when my invitation to the palace arrived. I was delighted to share the day with my mum and my sister. It was cool being able to invite them to Buckingham Palace for the day.


Dee Caffari

Dee received an MBE for the feat of becoming the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in both directions.


What words of wisdom would you give to women inspired by your achievements and who feel motivated to set themselves challenges in life after seeing your success?


You may not want to sail around the world but within each of us there is a huge challenge to be faced, and you would be surprised in what you can achieve. You can do more than you think you can, you just have to dare to dream.


Dee Caffari

Dee’s passion for sailing is matched by her intent to work with and aid young people in the sport.


What’s in store for the rest of the year and beyond? Do you have any exciting challenges or projects in the pipeline?


I am busy at the moment with some coaching of young British Talent with a project called Vendee 2020 Vision. We are working with some solo sailors that have been racing on small boats and helping them step up to an IMOCA 60 hoping that they too will be an entry into the Vendee Globe Race in the future.


I was also lucky enough to recently join The Magenta Project in a foiling week, that introduced female sailors to the world of foiling catamarans. These were fast, physical and exciting and we had such a cool week in near perfect conditions. I would jump at another chance for that. I also permanently have my fingers crossed hoping that I will be able to participate in the next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. The race starts October 2017 so keep your fingers crossed with me so you can follow my progress.

Find out more about Dee by visiting her website http://www.deecaffari.co.uk


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