Video: Kirsten Neuschäfer makes history in Golden Globe Race

A hero's welcome in the legendary channel of Les Sables d'Olonne despite a late arrival trapped by no wind (credit Rob Havill GGR2022)

Skipper Kirsten Neuschäfer received a hero’s welcome in the channel of Les Sables d’Olonne, after completing the Golden Globe Race and becoming the first woman to win a round-the-world solo race.

Thousands of Sablais, Sablaises and fans from all around the world greeted her as she crossed the Golden Globe finish line aboard Minnehaha on at 19:43:47 on Thursday 27 April 2023.

Neuschäfer had spent 235 days at sea, with an official time of 233 days, 18 hours, 43 minutes and 47 seconds after her 35 hours of compensation awarded for Tapio‘s rescue were discounted, and no fuel penalty since she only consumed 30.7 litres of fuel in her round-the-world voyage.

It’s been a long time in the making for Neuschäfer, who got becalmed just hours before going through the finish line off the coast on the world’s solo sailing capital Les Sables d’Olonne. Several boats joined her eight miles offshore, and this is when she learnt that she was going to be the winner of the GGR.

Earlier the same day, Simon Curwen (GBR) sailed up the channel as the first boat home despite his stop in Puerto Montt to repair a broken wind vane, and came up the channel with his wife Clare, cheered by supporters.

He was welcomed by Yannick Moreau, the Mayor of Les Sables d’Olonne, GGR 2018 winner, International Association of Cape Horners’ president Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, and GGR president Don McIntyre, to be presented with the Cape Horners ensign.

I did not know where the others were after being stopped so long in the doldrums, so I kept pushing the boat as hard as I could. Credit Rob Havill GGR2022
“I did not know where the others were after being stopped so long in the doldrums, so I kept pushing the boat as hard as I could,” says Neuschäfer

“Kirsten is at the image of the race which promotes simplicity and sobriety, and it’s led her to victory,” says Vendée Globe legend Catherine Chabaud who came specially to greet and congratulate Neuschäfer on her historic win.

On 30 April 2023, retired Navy commander Abhilash Tomy, the first Indian to complete a solo non-stop voyage around the world in 2013, secured a second-place finish in the gruelling 2022 Golden Globe Race. It’s a remarkable comeback for Tomy, who suffered a broken back during an accident during his first Golden Globe attempt in 2018.

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