Atlantic rower Debra Searle to race 60ft yacht round the world

Atlantic rower Debra Searle MBE, (formerly Debra Veal) is looking to take on the biggest challenge of her career. Debra hit the headlines in January 2002 when she finished a two-handed Atlantic rowing challenge on her own, after her then husband abandoned the race after developing an uncontrollable fear of the ocean.

Now Debra is forsaking rowing to race a 60ft race boat, solo around the world, the wrong way over the winter of 2006/2007. It will be one of the toughest battles she has faced and, if successful, Debra, 30, could go down in history as the first and fastest female to circumnavigate the globe sailing east to west via the three great capes of Cape Horn, Cape Leeuwin and Cape of Good Hope against the world’s prevailing winds and tides.

No female has managed to finish this challenge before and only four male skippers have successfully completed the task starting with Sir Chay Blyth in 1971 who became the first sailor to complete a solo, non-stop westabout circumnavigation in 292 days. Then 20 years on, Britain’s Mike Golding succeeded in doing the same taking a huge chunk out of Blyth’s time in 1993/94 to set a new time of 161 days. French skipper, Philippe Monnet reduced that record to 151 days and then his compatriot, Jean Luc Van Den Heede, set a new westabout time of 122 days, 14 hours, 3 minutes and 49 seconds last winter.

Debra could be racing for well over 150 days in a refitted VOR60 boat that competed in the 2001/2002 Volvo Ocean Race as ‘NewsCorp’.

Debra has joined forces with Pindar, the international print and electronic media company, who have a long-standing history in supporting female ocean adventurers. The British-based company has sponsored sailor Emma Richards for over five years, who in 2003 became the youngest person and first British woman to complete the solo ‘Around Alone’ race.

Last month Pindar providing funding and support to quadriplegic sailor Hilary Lister who sailed solo across the English Channel using a unique technique of inhaling and exhaling to control the sails. Pindar will part sponsor Debra’s venture and are actively looking for co-sponsors to support this record attempt.