She entered the history of sailing. South African Kirsten Neuschäfer became, on Thursday April 27, the first woman to win a solo round-the-world race, arriving in Les Sables-d'Olonne (Vendée) at the head of the Golden Globe Race.
The 40-year-old sailor won after 235 days at sea of a crazy epic where the 16 competitors at the start had to go through the three reference capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin, Horn), non-stop, assistance and means of navigation modern.
Smiling and barefoot, Kirsten Neuschäfer crossed the finish line off Les Sables-d'Olonne at 9.43 p.m. aboard her small 1988 monohull called Minnehaha, which withstood numerous storms for eight month.
Rescue of Finn Tapio Lethinen
On February 15, she had already become the first woman in history to pass Cape Horn at the head of a circumnavigation of the globe, just weeks after rescuing her Finnish competitor Tapio Lethinen, shipwrecked off the coast of South Africa. .
Kirsten Neuschäfer, the only woman to take the start, was joined at the finish line by sailor and MEP Catherine Chabaud, the first woman to sail around the world, solo, during the Vendée Globe 1996-1997 .
Of the 16 starters in the Golden Globe Race, only two other sailors were still in contention on Thursday. The Indian Abhilash Tomy was due to arrive in Vendée in the coming days while the Austrian Michael Guggenberger was still off the Canary Islands.
Briton Simon Curwen crossed the line at midday but could no longer claim overall victory because he had made a stopover in a Chilean port during the race for repairs.