03 JULY 2015
Cordon Rouge Club member, Dee Caffari joined Team SCA the only all-female team taking part in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014/15.
Dee began the journey with the team in January 2014. They were training in Lanzarote where they could leave the sheltered waters of Puerto Calero and head straight into the Atlantic Ocean to practise handling their 65 foot race boat with a team of 11 sailors and 1 on board reporter capturing their every move and emotion.
The race itself started in October 2014 from Alicante. The seven yachts competing in this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race headed out of the Mediterranean, down the Atlantic and into Cape Town, South Africa in 26 days.
Leg two took the fleet from Cape Town round the Cape of Good Hope and north in the Indian Ocean. They entered the Straits of Hormuz and sailed in the Persian Gulf to Abu Dhabi. The leg lasted 25 days but on day 8 Team Vestas Wind hit an atoll and needed to be rescued. Only six boats remained in the race.
On leg three the fleet sailed from Abu Dhabi to Sanya in China. They sailed through the busiest waterways in the world, The Singapore Straits and the Malacca Straits. There were lots of ships, there was lots of current and sadly there was lots of rubbish in the water.
From Sanya they headed across the South China Sea passing the Luzon Strait between the Philippines and Taiwan. Strong head winds made for a difficult sea state and some 20 days later they arrived in the City of Sails, Auckland, New Zealand.
After enjoying a good rest in New Zealand they raced across the Southern Ocean, rounding Cape Horn on April Fools Day and onward to Itajai, Brazil. This was the longest leg as far as distance was concerned but only 20 days in time due to the nature of the fast downwind sailing they could enjoy in the Pacific Ocean. This time tragedy struck Dongfeng Race Team as they dismasted ending their leg in Chile. Only five boats finished this leg.
They then headed back into the Northern Hemisphere where Team SCA was the first boat to cross the equator as they sailed from Brazil to Newport, Rhode Island, USA. Difficult areas within the Sargasso Sea made the going tough with seaweed on their foils that had to be removed. Finally after 17 days they arrived with just ten hours separating them from the leaders, something to celebrate for the team.
The final transatlantic crossing marked the start of the sprint legs. They crossed the Atlantic to Lisbon, Portugal in 9 days finishing just four hours after the lead boat. Their delta was getting smaller each leg, especially now the legs were getting shorter.
Leg 8 was when Team SCA re-wrote history. For the first time ever in the history of the race an all-female team achieved line honours. They crossed the line first. They had won the leg and everyone was happy. Team Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing had also won the overall race at this stage no matter the result on the final leg.
The final leg from Lorient in France to Gothenburg in Sweden was split by a pit stop in The Hague. The teams stopped for 24 hours making this leg very complicated as there are lots of hazards, tides and exclusion zones to avoid.
The final podium positions are only going to be decided by this final leg making it a close fought battle between four teams. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are the clear winners and Team Vestas Wind unfortunately only took part in three and a half legs but did win the race to get back in the race by re building the boat in a record time. Team SCA achieved their goal of improving every leg during the race. They won some they lost some but they sailed better every day and finished in sixth position.
It has been an intense 18 months where Dee has been away from home and loved ones but has seen some new areas of the world. This has been her fifth time around the world and she’s still not tired of this race course, every day is different and that is why she loves the challenge. It has been an incredible adventure with a squad of 14 other likeminded sailors and Dee hopes she will get to do it again and do a better job of it.