Talking With Kirsten Neuschäfer, the First Woman to Sail and Win the Golden Globe

The nonstop, round-the-world Golden Globe Race has become a banner of “retro sailing,” or “sailing like it’s 1968.” Entrants for the competition, which begins and ends in Les Sable d’Olonne, France, are required to sail small boats alone, using only pre-1960s-era technology — no satellite communication, autopilot, cellphones or radar. Courses are plotted using celestial navigation and a sextant.

The champion this year was 40-year-old Kirsten Neuschäfer who, after 235 days at sea aboard Minnehaha, her 36-foot Cape George sailboat, became the first woman to both complete and win the race.

But Ms. Neuschäfer is quick to state that being a figurehead was never the point.

“I did want to win, but not because I’m a woman, or because I wanted to set a record as being the first woman,” she said. “I wanted to be there as a sailor and as an equal.”

Her accomplishments — not only completing and winning the race, but also rescuing a fellow sailor — certainly promise to raise her profile. The Golden Globe, which debuted in 1968, looms large in sailor’s lore — much of the competition takes place in the high latitudes of the Southern Ocean, circling between South Africa and South America, around the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn, an area known for punishing winds and towering waves. The race has been referred to, aptly, as “a voyage for madmen.”

What Next?

Recent Articles

Leave a Reply

You must be Logged in to post comment.