Port Elizabeth sailor makes history in around-the-world solo race

Posted on 28 April 2023 By David Henning

The only woman in the event, Port Elizabeth sailor Kirsten Neuschäfer won the Golden Globe Race, breaking records for the best distance over 24 hours (unofficially 218.9 nautical miles) and the best distance over 7 days (unofficial at 1143.7 nautical miles) in the process.


The victory also saw her become the first woman to win the Golden Globe Race.

However, with no internet on board, as per race rules, she was quite unaware that she was leading the race or that she was making history.

Picture: Supplied / Golden Globe Race Facebook Image

The 39-year-old was the only woman among the 16 starters for the 2023 Golden Globe Race and one of the 4 finishers of the race, with the remaining 12 boats having to pull out of this gruelling eight-month event.

The race, known as the Voyage of Madmen, is a roughly eight-month solo, non-stop, around-the world-race, where participants carry all of their own provisions from the start to the finish.

This meant there was little to no contact with the outside world for the entire race, other than to check in with the race organisers and call for help if needed.

‘Kirsten, is a fairly unknown female sailor from South Africa but this is all just about to change as this incredibly powerful, inspiring and uplifting story unfolds,’ said internationally acclaimed big wave surfer, Guinness SUP World Record holder and conservationist, Chris Bertish, an avid sailor himself.

‘It’s one of the most amazing and inspiring stories and feats of any sporting icon in the last decade.’

‘The fact that she is the first and only woman in the race, is from South Africa and is going to win it makes it even more powerful, empowering and impactful.’

‘We as South Africans need to get behind this South African hero and support and celebrate her victory as one of the truly iconic feats and expeditions it is.’

Meanwhile, in a press statement, SA Sailing president Michael Robinson heaped praise on Neuschäfer.

‘South Africa has had other sailing heroes like Bertie Reed and John Martin who have done the circumnavigation, but Kirsten is the first South African to do it non-stop and unassisted. How’s that for a gender statement?

‘We are so proud of Kirsten. She has made not only the country’s sailing community but the whole of South Africa proud and provided an exceptional example to both women and men of what’s possible with incredibly hard work and determination,’ Robinson said.

Written by Murray Swart

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