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Dame Naomi James

Dame Naomi James

Dame Naomi James, became the first woman to sail solo around the world via Cape Horn with one stop in 1978, completing her circumnavigation in 272 days, beating Sir Francis Chichester’s solo round-the-world sailing record by two days.

Raised in New Zealand, she met her future husband Rob James in Saint-Malo, in 1975 who was skippering a charter yacht for Chay Blyth. She learned about sailing from Rob, and while waiting for him to return from an ocean race and marry her, she made the decision to sail single-handed around the world, non-stop. She told Rob of her dream during their honeymoon, when had only six-weeks sailing experience. Chay Blyth lent her his 53-foot (16 m) yacht Spirit of Cutty Sark (later renamed Express Crusader), others raised money for supplies, and the Daily Express newspaper sponsored the voyage.

Naomi James was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979 in recognition of her achievements, and was named New Zealand Sailor of the Year.

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