Kirsten Neuschäfer wins historic Golden Globe Race
Original post: Another World Adventures
THE 2022 GOLDEN GLOBE RACE – sailing like it’s 1968!
Okay – seriously. Adventure and sail racing don’t get better than this in my opinion. For the past weeks I’ve been gripped to the trackers of the entrants in what must be one of the most exciting adventure races on the planet.
And even more exciting that Kirsten Neuschäfer, 40, has won the 2022 Golden Globe Race on her Cape George 36 called “MINNEHAHA”.
The South African became the first woman to win a round the world race by the three great capes, including solo and fully crewed races, non-stop or with stops, and the first South African sailor to win a round-the-world event!
She was the only woman of 15 competitors to enter.
On reporting her win, CNN journalist Thomas Schlachter quite rightly wrote: A legend is born.
So, what is the Golden Globe Race?
Entrants race solo, non-stop, and in boats that are reminiscent of the ‘Golden Age’ of solo sailing – meaning that the yachts have to be designed before 1988 and are without electronic instruments or autopilots.
The race is based on the original Sunday Times event which was won by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on his boat Suhaili.
He was the first person to sail single handed and non-stop around the world between 14 June 1968 and 22 April 1969. His voyage lasted just over ten months and made history. In recognition of his achievement, he was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) and a knight bachelor and has dedicated his life to encouraging others to live their dreams on the ocean.
The 2022 Golden Globe Race concept is very simple: Depart from Les Sables-d’Olonne, France on September 4th, 2022 and sail solo, non-stop around the world and return to Les Sables-d’Olonne. Completing the challenge requires extraordinary skill, grit and determination.
They skippers navigate with sextant on paper charts, without electronic instruments or autopilots. They hand-write their logs and determine the weather for themselves. Only occasionally can they talk to loved ones and the outside world when long-range high-frequency 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 250 days at sea in little boats, challenging themselves and each other.
Neuschäfer finished with an official time of 233 days, 20 hours, 43 minutes and 47 seconds. Her boat boat –Minnehaha – being her “companion,” throughout the adventure.
“I had the will to win as soon as I registered for the race and I did all my preparations accordingly.” she told Sail World.
*Message* Set a bold goal and go for it!!
By the time the South African Neuschäfer crossed the line, only two other sailors were on course to complete the race without stopping. Abhilash Tomy (43), from India, who came in 2nd is deserving of another post that is coming soon – his story is bonkers and extremely inspiring.
Neuschäfer also touched on the issue of gender given she was the only woman in the race, adding: “I wanted to win, not as a woman. I didn’t want to be in a separate category but to compete on equal terms with all the skippers.”
It’s important to acknowledge the bravery, skill and efforts of every sailor that took on this challenge of being ‘one sailor, one boat’ facing the great oceans of the world. They’re all winners in my eyes. Indeed, it’s written into the DNA of the race itself that the adventure takes precedence over winning at all costs.
If her win isn’t impressive enough – during the race the South African diverted from her path to rescue fellow competitor Tapio Lehtinen whose boat sank leaving the Finnish skipper stranded for over 24 hours in the southern Indian Ocean. An infamous area of the race from the 2018 event as well – more on that soon – Neuschäfer was the first to reach Lehtinen and rescue her fellow competitor.
“We drank a rum together and then we sent him on his merry way .. No congratulations needed for the rescue, everyone would do the same for another sailor, thank you guys for coordinating it,” the race website reported.
I’m sure you’re wondering ‘who is Kirsten Neuschäfer???’ and what’s her story?
Kirsten has been sailing dinghies since her childhood, but sailing since 2006 as a profession. Her longest single-handing was a delivery from Portugal to South Africa with only a windvane as self-steering, on an old and maintenance-intensive 32-foot ferro-cement sloop. In 2015, she began working on expeditions to South Georgia, The Antarctic Peninsula, Patagonia and the Falklands.
- sailed several film crews down to capture the beauty of the Antarctic.
- been featured in National Geographic series ‘Wild Life Resurrection Island with Bertie Gregory’ as she sailed his crew throughout South Georgia to shed light on the beautiful ecosystems and hardships they’ve faced.
- sailed and was a support vessel for several crews from the newest BBC series ‘Seven Worlds, One Planet’ for footage of leopard seal predation against gentoo penguins and albatross behavior from Bird Island South Georgia.
Along with sailing, she also enjoys other solitary adventures.
She cycled from Europe back home to South Africa (15000 km over approximately one year) on her own when she was just 22.
She traveled throughout the Northwest and Central Africa into Southern Africa and eventually ending in Cape Agulhas. The trip brought trials and tribulations but was life-enriching in every sense, giving her the deepest appreciation of Africa and her people.
We’re so impressed! Well done Kirsten! A legend indeed!
With thanks to GGR for providing images.
Hi I’m Larissa, Founder of Another World Adventures. Welcome! If you’re planning an adventure you’re in the right place. Get ready to discover epic travel inspo and a collection of hand-picked trips from my trusted network of experienced adventure experts. Think unusual destinations, expeditions, slow, solo and sustainable travel and epic journeys on land and at sea! Ever got a question? Just get in touch, I answer every enquiry myself. Enjoy!