“Talking Sailing” From My Archives. Kirsten Set for Fame and Glory

Kirsten Neuschäfer taking a selfie high up the mast in Cape Town.

by Richard Crockett

In approximately 10 hours time Kirsten Neuschäfer should cross the finish line of the singlehanded Golden Globe Race in first place after approximately 236 days at sea non-stop.

And interestingly, she does not know that she is in the lead as race rules prevent radio contact and more except on official channels. So what a surprise awaits her as does a massive crowd which is expected to welcome her home to Les Sables d’Olonne in France.

In my book she deserves every single accolade coming her way, and those that will come in the future too. She has been tenacious, brave and caring, all the while sailing her trusty steed, a 36-footer named ‘Minnehaha’, as fast and safely as possible.

She too will stand as a giant of South African solo sailors, as have Bertie Reed, John Martin, Neal Petersen and JJ Provoyeur who all circumnavigated the globe singlehanded.

Her victory will bring with it many firsts and elevate her immediately to hero status.

Should she win, and only a major catastrophic event could prevent this, she will:

• be the first woman to win a round the world race via the three great capes including solo and fully crewed races, non-stop or with stops

• be the first South African sailor to win a round-the-world event!

• join Sir Robin Knox Johnston and other famous sailors as a winner of the Golden Globe Race.

To me though, her greatest accomplishment in this race, besides hopefully being the winner, was rescuing Tapio Lehtinen in the Indian Ocean after his boat suddenly capitulated and sunk underneath him. That was heroic and a tough assignment as she had to deviate from her course to effect the rescue, for which she received a 23 hour compensation.

There is just so much one could write about this incredible woman and her achievements in this race, but as social media is awash with news and comments on her, I won’t cover them just yet.

My only wish is that the President of South Africa has been alerted to her achievement, and will publically acknowledge her soon after the finish as she deserves his acknowledgement and every single accolade showered on her.

Well done Kirsten – you have made so many people beam with pride. Enjoy the experience of finishing first and winning this incredibly tough race.

Kirsten Neuschäfer on board Minnehaha.

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