First woman to sail solo, non-stop, the 'wrong way' around the world scoops prestigious award

Dee Caffari has been named Raymarine/YJA Yachtsman of the Year. The 33-year-old former teacher made it into the record books in May 2006 as the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, the ‘wrong way’ around the world.

For Dee the challenge was a long-held ambition, sparked during her time as a PE teacher in Dorset. Born to a motorboating family, Dee had always loved boats, but it wasn’t until her time at university in Leeds that she took up sailing. Her experience as a dinghy instructor, paired with her job by the sea in Swanage, gave her a taste for high-seas adventure she couldn’t shake off.

She left her post as a teacher to train as a yacht skipper, eventually being offered a place as a skipper in the Global Challenge. It was during this that Challenge Business founder, Sir Chay Blyth, asked her to try a more personal voyage, the Aviva Challenge.

Dee departed Portsmouth alone in November 2005 for the trip that would make her a national heroine. She returned in May 2006 to a triumphant homecoming in Southampton.

Dee’s award was presented at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich by Lady Pippa Blake, the widow of Sir Peter Blake, whose book inspired Dee during her record-breaking voyage.

The ceremony was held just three days after Dee presented 18-year-old Katie Miller with the Young Sailor of the Year award – making it a double for the girls. Read exclusive interviews with both Dee Caffari and Katie Miller in next month’s Practical Boat Owner magazine.

Photo by onEdition: YJA Chairman Bob Fisher, Raymarine YJA Yachtsman of the Year Dee Caffari and Lady Pippa Blake.