Dee Caffari sets sail with Garmin on board

Record breaking British yachtswoman, Dee Caffari MBE, is the first woman to sail solo, nonstop, around the world in both directions. Later this year Dee will take on her next challenge and together with Spanish co skipper, Anna Corbella, they will form the only female team to compete in the Barcelona World Race – a gruelling two handed nonstop race around the globe.

Dee has just completed a racing tour of Spain aboard her Open 60 yacht, GAES Centros Auditivos, and talks below about the importance of Garmin products to performance.  Dee’s ultimate goal is to achieve a podium position in the Vendee Globe 2012 and the race to the start line has already begun as she continues her search for a title sponsor to support the campaign.

Dee 3

The Veulta Espana a Vela was a test of IMOCA 60’s in close coastal racing – a very different environment from our normal long offshore passages where we lose sight of each other after the first night. Six legs of varying length actually resulted in all eight yachts being in sight of each other from beginning to end.

The first three legs took us along the north coast of Spain, battling upwind in blustery and showery conditions. We departed from new harbours with an inshore leg close to the beach and crowds of spectators. A multitude of sail changes and manoeuvres meant we needed all five crew on deck and often the navigator was fulfilling a duel role. Anna Corbella, my Spanish co skipper for the Barcelona World Race later this year, was our navigator for the whole race as she possessed the local knowledge. Being on deck looking outside the boat and checking information on the Garmin GPS Map 620 in-between pulling sheets proved invaluable. Similarly, after racing hard for the whole leg we often arrived in darkness, battling with another boat right up to the finish line, short tacking against foul tide and needing to be confident in our surroundings. Rather than run from the below deck chart table to on deck and risk our night vision suffering, a quick glance at the handheld unit confirmed depths and gave us the confidence we needed to maintain our racing performance.

Dee 2

The slightly longer leg down the Portuguese coast had us enjoying long surf and strong downwind conditions. Under spinnaker with speeds in excess of 20 knots we encountered plenty of shipping traffic which we found ourselves moving towards very quickly. Having our Garmin GPSmap 5008 Chart Plotter / Radar linked into our AIS, we were able to keep a good look out day and night for approaching vessels and take the necessary measures to avoid any risk of collision. On occasions where avoidance was to prove tricky, we were quick to communicate with the shipping and explain who we were and what we were up to, asking them to take evading action! Since there were eight Open 60’s screaming down the coast, the ships were more than happy to steer clear of us all.

Being an incredibly busy area for shipping, fishing boats and local cruising sailors, the Gibraltar Straits is a whole different ball game. The weather can be very tricky and in our case the wind shut down altogether resulting in a virtual restart in the Straits where we had a scoring gate to round. Staying clear of the shipping lanes was an easy exercise using the Garmin GPSmap 5008 chart plotter to avoid the area and the on deck GPS Map 620 kept us free of the shallows as we tried to avoid the adverse current and seek any type of sea breeze we could find to keep us moving.

Dee 1

Constant sail changes as the fickle winds of the Mediterranean blew kept us working hard to maintain pace with the front-runners in this race. We know we made some tactical mistakes and crew errors in addition to managing maintenance problems on the boat and this held us back from showing our true potential. Regularly finishing in sixth place just behind the bulk of the fleet we were delighted to take fifth place on one leg and the crew were delighted they could see results from their efforts. Well worth the physical exhaustion they were feeling at the end of each stage! Training for such events with my Garmin Forerunner 310XT – GPS enabled personal trainer, meant that I was well prepared physically for this race and I shall continue to record my exertions when sailing so that I can replicate the intensity when I am training on land. My goal? To be in the best physical shape possible when the Barcelona World Race starts on 31st December 2010.”

For more information on Dee, visit