Dee Caffari's yacht was named yesterday in preparation for Sunday's round the world departure

Dee Caffari’s final preparations for ‘The Aviva Challenge’ gathered pace yesterday as the ‘Aviva’ was officially named in a traditional ceremony at Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, England, ahead of her departure on Sunday, 20 November. Caffari’s yacht, Aviva, was named after the international savings, investments and insurance group which is the sponsor of Caffari’s quest to become the first woman to sail solo, non-stop around the world against the prevailing winds and currents.

The boat was named by eight-year-old Amelia Hackett from Plymouth, who is one of Caffari’s keenest fans and ardently followed her exploits as a skipper in the last Global Challenge round-the-world race. Amelia was chosen to name the Aviva because she represents the young generation of people that Caffari is hoping to inspire with her record-breaking attempt. Amelia was joined at the naming ceremony by Sir Chay Blyth, Caffari’s mentor for this voyage and the first person to sail this route 34 years ago, and Patrick Snowball, executive director of Aviva.

During ‘The Aviva Challenge’, former school-teacher Caffari will be sailing the 72ft yacht which she skippered, with a crew of 18, in the last Global Challenge race. The yacht has been modified to enable her to sail it single-handedly and her circumnavigation is expected to last between 120 and 170 days, of which approximately 80 days will be spent in the treacherous Southern Ocean.

Caffari has spent the last few weeks familiarising herself with the yacht’s modifications including the new furling gear and the powerful three speed pedestal drive winch installed in the centre cockpit, which make the sails easier to manoeuvre single-handedly. Caffari has also tested other alterations such as the auto pilot system and active radar transponder, which have been fitted for additional safety.

The naming ceremony marks the closing phase of this familiarisation period and her last days before setting sail will be spent carrying out final sea trials, organising provisions and planning with her shore team.

Caffari said: “The official naming of the Aviva is one of the final formalities before I set off and I’m now completely focused and ready for the forthcoming challenges. The last few weeks have been really busy but I can’t wait to set out on this voyage. My main aim is to achieve that last ‘first’ which is still out there for a female yachtswoman. I’ve got an excellent team supporting me and I’m in the best possible shape to succeed.”

Sir Chay Blyth said: “I believe Dee has the right character to be successful in her mission to complete this circumnavigation. It takes a particular type of person to want to take on such a challenge and I know Dee will relish the various tests. She is sailing in a yacht that she knows very well and has already completed the same route before, and is backed up by an excellent shore team who will provide her with plenty of support. I am as excited about this project as I was when I set out on my own voyage 34 years ago.”