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13 Female Sailors Who Conquered The Sea

Sailing is definitely not a hobby reserved only for men. Women can have a go at it too. In fact, female sailors have excelled at sailing, displaying their navigation skills, stamina and their determination to achieve these brave feats.

Whether they’ve circumnavigated the world solo or went sailing for sport, these 13 female sailors truly conquered the sea.

#1. Dame Ellen MacArthur

Dame MacArthur holds the world record of fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe. She completed her 27,354-nautical mile journey in 71 days, 14 hours 18 minutes and 33 seconds. Apart from loving the sea, Ellen launched two charities, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.

#2. Dame Naomi James

Dame Naomi James became the first woman to sail around the world on her own via Cape Horn. She left in Sept. 9, 1977 and returned on June 8, 1978. Because of her achievements, the New-Zealand born sailor was dubbed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979.

#3. Laura Dekker

At 13, Dekker announced she aimed to be the youngest person to sail the world single-handedly. Dutch authorities protested but she didn’t go down without a fight in court for 10 months. Eventually, she was able to convince the judge to let her go after agreeing to have her boat upgraded. In August 2010, she accomplished her feat at 16 years old.

#4. Shirley Robertson, MBE and OBE

Shirley Robertson became the first woman to win two Olympic gold medals successively, in Syndey in 2000 and Athens in 2004. The International Sailing Federation named Robertson the World Sailor of the Year and was given the MBE award in 2000 and OBE award in 2005.

#5. Tracy Edwards, MBE

Tracy Edwards led the first all-female crew to succeed in the Whitebread Round the World Race. At 23, she participated in that race – her first aboard the Maiden.

#6. Clare Francis

Clare Francis first worked in marketing before deciding she want to sail the Atlantic in 1973 all on her own. But that’s not what’s impressive about Francis. Besides being a sailor, she is also an international bestselling authors, having written 12 fiction novels and four non-fiction.

#7. Jeanne Socrates

Socrates, a British sailor, became the oldest female sailor who sailed around the world non-stop in 2013.

#8. Pippa Wilson, MBE

To this day, Pippa Wilson continues to be one of the best female sailors in the UK. She bagged the gold medal in the Yngling sailing class at the Beijing Olympics 2008.

#9. Sarah Ayton, OBE

Another female sailor from the UK, Sarah Ayton wold two Olympic gold medals and two more from the World Championship. She also one one gold medal at the European Championship.

#10. Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz

Also a sea captain and shipbuilding engineer, Chojnowska-Liskiewicz went sailing on her own yacht on February 28, 1976. Four-hundred and one days later on April 21, 1978, she returned.

#11. Sarah Gosling, OBE

Sarah won two gold Olympic medals, two World Championship gold medals and a gold medal at the European Championship.

#12. Kay Cottee, AO


Kay Cottee’s sailing journey was hard to imagine. The non-stop voyage proved to be daunting for her yet almost 100,000 Australians celebrated her return.

#13. Denise “Dee” Caffari, MBE

After working as a physical education teacher for five years, Dee Caffari decided to join the sailing scene. In 2006, she became the first female sailor to brave the ocean despite prevailing winds and currents.

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