Caffari makes sailing history in Vendee

Updated: February 16, 2009, 9:45 AM ET
Associated Press

LES SABLES D'OLONNE, France -- British sailor Dee Caffari became the first woman to sail around the world solo in both directions when she finished sixth Monday in the Vendee Globe.

The 36-year-old Caffari finished the race in 99 days, 1 hour, 10 minutes and 57 seconds in her Vendee Globe debut. Aboard Aviva, she circled the three great capes: Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn, the southernmost tips of Africa, Australia and the Americas.

In May 2006, Caffari became the first woman to sail solo the other way around the world, against prevailing winds and currents. That trip took nearly twice as long, 178 days, 3 hours, 5 minutes.

Earlier Monday, French sailor Marc Guillemot benefited from more than two days in bonus time for helping an injured rival to edge Samantha Davies of Britain for third place in the Vendee Globe.

Guillemot arrived overnight at Les Sables d'Olonne on France's Atlantic Coast after 95 days, 3 hours, 19 minutes, 36 seconds, just 80 minutes faster than Davies in the solo, around-the-world sailing race.

Davies crossed the finish line Saturday, but Guillemot took third because organizers took 82 hours off his time in December because of his efforts to help sailor Yann Elies, who pulled out of the race after fracturing his femur while trying to change a sail in rough weather. Davies was credited with 32 hours for helping Elies.

Davies was hoping to become the second woman to reach the top three in the Vendee Globe. Ellen MacArthur was the first, in 2000-01.

Michel Desjoyeaux of France won the race aboard Foncia, finishing in 84 days, 3:09:08, ahead of Armel Le Cleac'h on Brit Air.

The fleet sailed from Les Sables in early November. Grueling weather conditions forced more than half of the 30-strong field to abandon the event.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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