Kirsten Neuschäfer

2022’s Only Female Golden Globe Racer Sailing

Kirsten has been sailing dinghies since her childhood, but sailing since 2006 as a profession. From sailing training to sailboat deliveries, she built a diverse set of skills and experience. Kirsten’s longest single-handing was a delivery from Portugal to South Africa with only a wind-vane as self-steering, on an old and maintenance-intensive 32 foot ferro-cement sloop. In 2015, she began working for Skip Novak on his Pelagic Expeditions to South Georgia, The Antarctic Peninsula, Patagonia and the Falklands.

Kirsten has sailed several film crews down to capture the beauty of the Antarctic. She was featured in National Geographic series “Wild_Life Resurrection Island with Bertie Gregory” as she sailed his crew throughout South Georgia to shed light on the beautiful ecosystems and hardships they’ve faced. She also sailed and was a support vessel for several crews from the newest BBC series “Seven Worlds, One Planet” for footage of leopard seal predation against gentoo penguins and albatross behavior from Bird Island South Georgia. 

Along with sailing, she also enjoys other solitary adventures. She cycled from Europe back home to South Africa (15000 km over approximately one year) on her own when she was just 22. She traveled throughout the Northwest and Central Africa into Southern Africa and eventually ending in Cape Agulhas. The trip brought trials and tribulations but was life-enriching in every sense, giving her the deepest appreciation of Africa and her people.

Her next challenge is the Golden Globe Race 2022, a solo, non-stop, unassisted circumnavigation. This retro race is based on the first solo circumnavigation race that took place in 1968. In order to stay true to the original circumnavigation, boats are all older designs, no bigger than 36 foot- and modern navigational technology, like GPS, is not permitted. Instead she will be depending on her skills in celestial navigation and dead reckoning. The route for the race is France, down the Atlantic, east-about the Southern Ocean, and back up the Atlantic to France- an approximate distance of 30,000 nautical miles and anywhere from 7 to 9 months or more at sea. This is largely a race of attrition, luck, seamanship- and adventure!


1. What’s your biggest achievement / Something you’re proud of yourself for?

“My biggest achievement is probably to have followed through with my dream of cycling through Africa when I was 22. I am glad that I listened to the dream, against all the dissuasive attempts of other people,  and that I did not give up on it, because it granted me the richest adventure of my life to date. Not only did I travel through some incredible scenery, from the vastness of deserts, like the Sahara and the Namib, to the densest of Central African jungle, but I met the kindest of friends and souls along the way – pearls of wisdom and humility – who reinforced my belief more than ever, that there are far, far more good people in this world, than bad – and expanded my view of Africa, showing me that this continent is far richer, tougher and greater than I could even dream, and where there are people who keep hope and positivity alive in even the harshest of conditions. I think back of that trip, of the people along the way and of everything I learnt, with the deepest of gratitude.”

2. What’s your biggest fear / something that holds you back?

Setting out on a new adventure and stepping out of my comfort zone towards the unknown, is a challenge time and again, especially when looking at the challenge in its entirety and envisaging the goal. There is no such thing as resting on one’s laurels, no matter how often I have done it before. So, when fear and uncertainty, or the immensity of what I have decided to try to undertake, start to take hold of me, then I have to tell myself to gather courage, to keep going and to face that fear. The first steps are always the hardest. Once the adventure is in motion, I deal with things as they arise. When the going gets tough, and the mountain ahead seems too high to climb, then all I can do is to keep going , to break the journey down again into one step at a time, one bit of problem solving at a time, and into milestones….”

3. What’s your biggest contribution / Something you like to share?

“I have had so many people help me along the way, and help me to achieve my dreams. I often wonder what it is that I can give back to the world, for all the help that I have received. I would like to think that one of the most constructive aspects of my travels, has been the many, many friendships that have been formed, and even though many of those people I might not see again, they have left a lasting memory of fondness and friendship with me, and I suspect that most often the feeling is mutual. To meet a friend, no matter the duration, to exchange a message and a view of the world, to be able to listen to someone else’s story and share one’s own,  and to walk a little bit of the path together, is one of the biggest blessings, and a great way to expand one’s view and understanding of the world. I also feel that seeing as I have been so privileged to have visited the many places that I have, if others can and wish to travel vicariously with me, then I owe it to those people to share my experience. If I can inspire even one other person to live out their own dreams and overcome their own or collective fears, to venture out and discover the grandness of this world we live in, then I would be very glad.”

See links below to find out more about Kirsten’s upcoming race!

Thank you for being you!

“Where do you find inspiration? In all the ways, but mostly, inside…” – SOW

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