By  Dona Bertarelli

My ‘Everest’ was the extraordinary journey which is the Jules Verne Trophy.

For three years, I prepared myself for this. I lived the adventure, a day at a time, fully, intensely, full of excitement, looking wide-eyed at the world, at myself, at those I love, among whom Yann, who opened up the doors to offshore sailing to me. My greatest joy was being able to share this adventure with the school children who were following us as part of our Spindrift for Schools programme. Throughout the 47 days onboard Spindrift 2, I wrote a series of articles titled ‘Out of the Classroom’ inspired by our encounters with marine life, the weather we experienced and the incredible places we passed as we sailed around the world. We didn’t beat the record, but what better present than to have been able to share what we learned from sailing around the world, and share a modern-day experience of Phileas Fogg’s adventures.

Spindrift 2 set off on January 16th, 2019, on another attempt to win the Jules Verne Trophy. And it is with a touch of nostalgia that I would like to share my articles again, to give you a glimpse of this wonderful adventure.


While sailing near the Brazilian coast, on our 6th day at sea during the Jules Verne Trophy record attempt in 2015, I remember crewmates spotting a lighthouse in the distance, alone in the middle of nowhere. Its lights instantly reminded us of civilization. The lighthouse was on one of the rocks of the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago, some 1,000 km from the Brazilian coast and 630 km from the island of Fernando de Noronha, the nearest island.

This archipelago was discovered in 1511 by six Portuguese caravels when a caravel was shipwrecked on one of the rocks. It’s an area that sees severe thunderstorms, and it wasn’t until 1930 that the first lighthouse was built. Replaced in 1995, the lighthouse ended perilous navigation in the area.

Whilst this first sign of civilization was unhospitable, the second, the island of Fernando de Noronha, was spectacularly beautiful. Discovered in 1503, it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site meaning its flora and fauna are protected. The island has an airport, a hospital and a nursery school, with 3,000 people living there year-round.

Both Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago and Fernando de Noronha island attract many scientists, including Charles Darwin, who visited them in 1832 during his voyage around the world.