Going Solo: What It Takes To Sail Around The World Alone

Avoiding icebergs, karaoke and good core stability it seems

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Dee Caffari MBE is the first woman to sail solo and non-stop around the world...in both directions.

And she's also the only woman to have sailed around the world in the wrong direction - against the prevailing winds - a total of three times. 

Asked why she thinks she's one of so few, only four other men have managed the feat, she says, 'Maybe there are only a few of us crazy enough to do it.'

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As the 2016 Olympic Games are about to kick off and we get ready to witness some amazing sporting achievements, ELLE asked Dee what it takes to spend 178 days solo with only the sea for company. 

What kind of person does it take to do a solo trip?

There is a certain amount of tenacity and determination required. 

A genuine passion and love for what you are doing is important as it is often quite miserable but those moments make you stronger and they make the good times even better.  

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I am incredibly stubborn and competitive so I challenge myself and then love to rise to the challenge.

What are you most proud of?

There are very few firsts left in the world today so to have been the first female to do something is quite special and unusual. 

Also records are made to be broken but once you are the first that can never be taken away. 

What's been the scariest moment of your career?

I have had two terrible experiences that have made me grow as a sailor. 

The first was getting stuck half way up my 29 metre mast while sailing in the Southern Ocean. 

The second was spending three days avoiding icebergs. 

I had very little sleep and very high stress levels.

How fit do you have to be before you sail?

A good level of fitness is required as you need to avoid illness and injury. 

So time is spent working on core stability and strength.

Onshore I exercise five times a week involving a couple of cardio sessions, some strength sessions and a session with a personal trainer. 

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When I'm sailing the work level is very much interval based: hard work for a period of time, then nothing for a while. 

Managing eating, sleeping and drinking is as important as cardiovascular fitness and strength as you have to sustain the work intensity for a long time going round the world.

What's your diet like on the boat?

It's fairly simple and involves drinking around 3 litres of water in a 24 hour period.

I have porridge for breakfast, then a freeze dried meal for lunch and dinner. 

My midnight munchies are Haribo sweets, I never go offshore without them.

What do you do to get over the loneliness?

I am now very good at having conversations with myself! 

I just have to remember when ashore that people expect conversations to be two-way!

I also have some great karaoke skills when sailing solo in the middle of an Ocean. 

What's your desert island disc?

My current favourite is the new Justin Timberlake song 'Can't Stop The Feeling!'.

Dee is part of the all-female sailing Magenta Project, which will be launching at the largest sailing regatta in the world, Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week which takes place from 6-13 August; www.aamcowesweek.co.uk and www.deecaffari.co.uk

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