5 most amazing women in sailing history

Today, we’re celebrating the most amazing women on the water. These record-breaking sailing legends took journeys most of us could only dream of. And a good portion just happen to be Australian born and bred.

  1. Jessica Watson – Aussie teen circumnavigates the world

At just 16 years old Australian sailor Jessica Watson circumnavigated the southern hemisphere, solo. Her journey ended back in Sydney just 3 days before she turned 17 years old.

Despite her triumph, record sticklers said her voyage was shorter than the 21,600 nautical miles required for official recognition.

However, Watson only ever claimed to be completing an ‘around the world’ adventure. In 2011, Watson was named Young Australian of the Year, in recognition of her achievement.

Head here for more on this amazing sailor.

Jessica Watson

  1. Dame Naomi James – first woman to sail solo around the globe

Being born on a landlocked sheep farm in New Zealand didn’t stop Naomi James from making her mark in sailing history.

James singlehandedly circumnavigated the globe, departing from Dartmouth (Devon) in 1977. The 272-day voyage saw her overtake Sir Francis Chichester’s solo record by a cool 2 days.

In 1979, James was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. It’s also worth noting that James didn’t learn to swim until she was 23 years old.

Read more about Dame Naomi James here.

  1. Kay Cottee – first solo, non-stop, unassisted global circumnavigation

It’s not surprising that another great in sailing history hails from Australia. Kay Cottee was the first female to finish a solo, unassisted global circumnavigation. And she did the whole journey non-stop.

Along the way, Cottee’s yacht capsized in 200km/h winds and 20-metre waves, which caused the sailor to wash overboard. Cottee was attached to her boat by 2 harness lines, and was forced to hold her breath underwater. Luckily her boat righted itself and she was able to climb back on board.

Cottee told the Australia, “It sounds a cliché, but your life really does pass before your eyes.” Read more about Cottee’s epic adventure here.

  1. Jeanne Socrates – oldest woman to sail around the world solo, non-stop

Proving age is no barrier to adventure, Socrates successfully completed the 25,000-mile global journey on her third attempt. Not bad for a sailor in her seventies.

Socrates only started sailing during her late 40’s, after her children had grown up and moved out of home. Initially, she enjoyed sailing with her husband, but when he passed on, she chose to continue solo.

Socrates told Yachting and Boating World, “I’m not really an armchair and slippers person.” Read her blog here.

  1. Dame Ellen Macarthur – world record for fastest, solo, global circumnavigation

Ellen Macarthur held the record for the fastest solo world-circumnavigation, beating Francis Joyon’s record in 2005.

Although the Frenchman took back the record in 2008, Macarthur’s feat remains incredibly impressive. Macarthur retired from professional sailing in 2010, launching 2 charities – the Ellen Macarthur Foundation and the Ellen Macarthur Cancer Trust.

Get updates from Macarthur on Twitter.

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Think we missed someone in our list? Feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below!