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Celebrating International Women's Day with wellness tips from Sunsail Ambassador Dee Caffari

Marked annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day (IWD) has been observed since the early 1900s – it is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements and rally for women’s equality. 

In today’s blog, we are celebrating the achievements of inspirational British yachtswoman and Sunsail ambassador, Dee Caffari MBE.

Since Dee Caffari changed careers from being a secondary school teacher to a professional sailor by re-training at UKSA in 2000, , Dee has sailed around the world six times. She is the first woman to have sailed single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions and is the only woman to have sailed non-stop around the world a total of three times.


In 2006 Dee became the first woman to sail solo, non-stop around the world against the prevailing winds and currents, and was awarded an MBE in recognition of her achievement.

In 2012 Dee and her all-female crew claimed 4th place in Sail Arabia The Tour onboard the Oman Sail Team. For two of the crew, they became the first Arab women to sail offshore. In 2014 she was awarded the ‘Ladies Day’ trophy at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week for her outstanding contribution, commitment and achievement of women in sailing. And in 2015, Dee, as part of Team SCA was the first all-female team in over a decade to complete the Volvo Ocean Race 14 – 15.

Dee also led ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’, the first mixed gender youth team to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race in 2017/18; with a strong sustainability message. Off the water, the issue of single use plastic in our oceans has gained huge momentum and has inspired many people to take action in their day to day lives. Dee continues to highlight the vital importance of reducing our dependence on plastics.

A true inspiration, Dee recently delivered a virtual wellbeing session to the Sunsail team, sharing her top tips and advice for anyone struggling with isolation.

Here are her top tips.

1. What and who inspires you?

So many people it is unreal. When I am tired, I get super sensitive and emotional. I was recently reading the first words of the Vendee Globe sailors arriving and shedding a tear each time. Now this is an event that I have done, but I was in awe of what they had achieved. I am guessing this was a mix of bringing back memories of my finish and what the race meant to me, and being inspired by sheer tenacity and achievements during a time where we have all faced difficult restrictions. I think my inspiration has shifted too from athletes or adventurers achieving  incredible feats to everyday people going above and beyond in the last 12 months.

2. With travel and social restrictions in place across the world, what can you share that will help and inspire teams?

Until travel restriction ease, we should look to be more resourceful in our outlook and planning. As an example, I did a Sunsail charter last year within the Solent and found some hidden gems on my doorstep that I had not seen since my training 20 years ago! It was awesome and we know the whole country has a coastline just waiting for us to explore. There is always a possibility to exploit a new angle.

3. What small steps can I make to improve motivation in both my personal and professional life?

Sometimes it is difficult to find the motivation for that exercise session or to write that report when you are left to your own devices. I find routine is the best way to help. I prepare the night before and lay out my exercise kit, so in the morning it is there. It is scheduled into my day. Quite often you don’t feel like it but once you start you do begin to feel better for it. This can be the same for any chore or obligation. Schedule it into your day to create a routine and hold yourself accountable for it. You can always reward yourself for a job cleared from the list or an ironing pile that is reduced, with that cup of tea, or a catch up with a friend so you can interact with someone to make you smile and share those feel-good emotions.

4. How do you adapt to any challenges that you may face?

Challenges are there to test us. I try and see them as an opportunity to push my boundaries and go above and beyond. It is all about breaking it down to achievable steps. Making small gains towards the ultimate goal. Write down your progress so you can see the development and don’t beat yourself up for a down day. We are all allowed them from time to time. I also find sharing them with someone helps you commit to it. They can hold you accountable and give you the encouragement you need.

5. What was your first “win” that made you confident that you were doing the right thing or made the right decision?

In the literal sense it was at the St Maarten Regatta when I took my boss at the time, who was Alex Thomson, to the protest room and won. I still remember that experience now. But I also think the realisation of the fact that life is about opportunities and the big decision is what you let pass you by and what you grab onto with both hands. My sailing career has led to all sorts of doors to open and opportunities to present themselves.

Embrace this time as a time to shine. Make it a positive time.



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