Offshore Olympic event opening doors

Published on October 12th, 2020

She’s sailed around the world six times, so Dee Caffari is no stranger to a challenge – but her most recent endeavor is slightly different to the rest.

The record-breaking British yachtswoman, who has competed in The Ocean Race twice and is the only woman to have sailed solo around the world in both directions, is now eyeing an Olympic campaign, an avenue she has previously eschewed.

But with the inclusion of the Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat Event at Paris 2024, it seemed only natural for Caffari to turn her attentions towards a brand new challenge; trying to win an Olympic medal.

“I think it’s a very relatable aspect of our sport, as so many couples sail in their leisure pursuits on their boats, and I also really like the fact that we’re bringing the offshore element together with the dinghy classes.

“The adventure of offshore sailing is all about harnessing the power of mother nature; no matter what wind she provides, how big the waves are, or whether you’re in the bright sunshine of daylight or the darkness of night-time.

“You’re trying to get the full potential out of your boat 24 hours a day for a consistent performance.”

This offshore addition to the Olympic Games will present a novel experience for fans – the event will be the longest at Paris 2024 as sailors compete in a race lasting over several days and nights, and Caffari believes that will give it an extra appeal to those watching the athlete’s progress from home.

“The interesting aspect is being able to follow online, which allows you to follow the race beyond your average nine to five day.”

As the current fastest-growing discipline in sailing, Double Handed Offshore presents an attractive option for sailors worldwide due to its demanding, yet straightforward nature.

“I think the reason it is growing so quickly is its sheer simplicity,” explained Caffari. “It is much easier to just coordinate two crew to be organized. And the sailors are loving it because they’re having to be really good at all the skills on a boat.”

So what’s next for Caffari? She has teamed up with James Harayda, a young but talented keelboat sailor, and the duo recently represented Great Britain at the EUROSAF Mixed Offshore European Championship.

She added, “I’m going to continue to try and get as much time on the water as possible, with a combination of racing, coaching and training so I can continue to develop my skills.”

It’s early days yet, but the prospect of competing offshore at Paris 2024 has certainly galvanized offshore sailors around the world.

Editor’s note: Anyone with interest in shorthanded sailing, from beginner through advanced, is encouraged to sign-up for a free membership at Offshore Doubles Sailing Association: click here.

Source: World Sailing

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