After completing the Barcelona World Race in April 2011 with her co-skipper Anna Corbella, Dee became the only woman on earth to have sailed non-stop around the world three times. Dee has time and again proven herself to be a yachtswoman of the highest calibre and many are amazed to learn that she only began her sailing career in 2000. In 2011 Dee was appointed by the Royal Navy as an Honorary Commander in recognition of her service to the sea and Britain’s maritime heritage as well as the charity ‘Toe in the Water’ which encourages injured service men and women to sail.Since 2015 Dee has been a presenter and producer for the online Global Women’s Sports Network WiSP Sports helping to support and promote female athletes and sport.An exclusive interview with Dee Caffari: Q) What do you miss most when you’re on one of your single-handed journeys?I miss the non-verbal communications you have in conversation. The expressive eyes and facial expressions mean so much more than words sometimes and you miss that side of the conversation. I also miss really laughing as you are not that funny on your own!
Q) Which do you prefer – sailing alone or with a team? And why?
I actually like the benefits both set-ups bring. I like the fact that when you are solo, it is all your fault, the good and the bad. There is nowhere to hide and you are responsible for everything. It really tests you. When you are part of a team I love the fact that you can push that much harder as everyone has each other’s backs. I like that the boat still pushes hard when you are sleeping as others take the responsibility. I love that intensity. I also like bringing together a well-oiled team, getting the best out of people and playing to each other’s strengths.
Q) What are the best things about being alone on the ocean?
You are harnessing the power of nature. You see wildlife in its natural environment and you experience endless horizons and uninterrupted sunrises and sunsets. It is beautiful and I consider it a privilege to have experienced it so often. These are sights so many will never see.
Q) What’s the most important piece of technology you have on your boats – and how has technology changed or improved since you started long-distance sailing?
It is no longer a case of sailing over the horizon never to be heard from again. With modern technology we can bring the experience to life within the comfort of a non-sailor’s warm home. We can conference call from the depths of the Southern Ocean, we can share video and images in real time with satellite communications. To communicate the experience and allow others to live it with us is important and how sponsors can get a return on their investment and objectives. Storytelling is key to a successful sailing offshore campaign and to be able to connect with others from remote and often difficult environments is a true testament to how far communications have come. It is exciting to think what will be next.
Q) How do you keep in touch with family, friends, sponsors – and the news?
You can receive emails and messages and there is a satellite phone. Although communications are still expensive, there is a race requirement for media and also you need weather downloads, so an email each day is part of the parcel. I like to receive news from home about everyday life as you are so focussed on what you are doing it is a welcome distraction and a little escapism.
Q) What is the longest you’ve been out of touch with people on dry land and how did you manage – and how anyway do you cope with the isolation?
The longest I have been at sea for was 178 days when I went around the world alone, non-stop, the ‘wrong way’, against the prevailing winds and tides: I am the first woman to do this and it was my first solo voyage. When I set off I thought that being upset or calling home would seem like a weakness so I spoke to no-one for ten days. It was an emotional rollercoaster. We then established a pattern that I would speak to someone once a week. This was company for me and also to reassure people on shore that I was okay. Communication is important for everyone’s peace of mind – an important lesson.
Q) You once said about sailing: “The day I stop enjoying it is the day I stop.” Do you have any thoughts about when you might stop – or changing the sort of sailing you do?
No two days are ever the same and I am still learning. I love all the sailing I am doing. I love the coaching I am involved with now and I still love racing offshore. I have also started doing some in-shore stadium racing: I enjoy being exposed to a new arena of sailing. I have no intentions of stopping yet and I hope I have the options and opportunities to carry on.
Q) You’re known for the charities you support. Why did you pick them?
To be supportive of a charity I believe you have to actively support when you can. I do not believe in just putting a name or a face to something. So I chose carefully and pick the charities where there is a genuine connection or they are something I believe in passionately. Sadly there is never enough time but I try and do my best.
Q) What is your next long-distance sailing adventure after these awards?
My next stop is in Oman in the Middle East where I help support the women’s sailing programme. I am out there coaching some young women in keelboat sailing so they can race in an event called Sailing Arabia The Tour, that takes place in February (a mixture of offshore legs and inshore races around the Arabian Gulf). It is a fantastic location to be sailing in the winter and we visit some amazing places.
Inspired by a gap year working in rural India, Dr Sarah Fane decided to switch from her degree course in French and Latin to study medicine at Bristol University. Her Elective, in 1987, was spent in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, working with an Obstetrician in an area with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Once qualified, she returned to Pakistan, and worked from a Mujahideen camp on the border with Afghanistan, during the height of the Soviet Afghan war, running clinics for female refugees.
Ten years later, having married and had four children, she was asked to travel to Afghanistan, which was in the grip of the Taliban regime, to assess a mother and child clinic. The visit and the people she met inspired her to set up Afghan Connection in 2002. The charity has supported health, education and sport in Afghanistan and has funded 42 school constructions for over 50,000 children. It has linked thousands of European children with children in Afghanistan through a twin school project. Currently Afghan Connection is supporting education for a population of 70,000 in the remote Hindu Kush and runs cricket projects backed by the M.C.C. Sarah was made an Honorary Life Member of the M.C.C. in 2012 and received an OBE in 2013, in recognition for her work in Afghanistan.
Ben Fogle is a broadcaster, traveller and adventurer. He has rowed the Atlantic Ocean, crossed Antarctica on foot, run across the Sahara and crossed the Empty Quarter on camel. He has presented numerous hit programmes on the BBC, ITV and Channel 5 including, New Lives in the Wild , Extreme Dreams , Countrywise , Harbour Lives , Through Hell and High Water and Crufts . He writes regularly for the Sunday Telegraph and has written six Sunday Times bestseller books. He is an ambassador for WWF, Medecins Sans Frontier, Tusk, Centrepoint and the Prince's Trust, is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and patron of The Royal Parks Foundation. Ben is a special correspondent for NBC News in the United States, reporting from all over the world for Today , Dateline and MSNBC Nightly News .
Author, broadcaster, astronaut and physicist Ulrich Walter is one of the few people to have experienced space travel, having been chosen from 1,799 applicants to train at the German Aerospace Centre and then at NASA headquarters. Living the dream of many scientists and adventurers, he spent ten days as a payload specialist on the shuttle Columbia and the European Spacelab station. He is now professor of astronautics at the Technical University, Munich, and a regular science broadcaster.
In 1984 the Guinness Book of Records described Sir Ranulph as the "World's Greatest Living Explorer". He was awarded the Sultan of Oman's Bravery Medal in 1970, the Polar Medal with bar from the Queen, the Explorers Club of New York Medal in 1983, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society's Founder's Medal in 1984, and both he and his first wife received the Polar Medal in 1987. He has received an Honorary Doctorate of Science.
In 1993 he was awarded an OBE for "human endeavour and charitable services ". He has led 22 major expeditions to remote parts of the world including to both Poles.
He is the author of several books including The Feather Men the UK No.1 Best Seller and Fit For Life plus an autobiography, recently updated.
During the last 20 years his astonishing feats of physical and mental endurance have claimed 10 expeditionary world records.
Each of his expeditions is designed to raise money for charitable causes. To date, they have raised over £14.2 million and Sir Ranulph has been named as the UK's top celebrity fundraiser by JustGiving.