Dona Bertarelli: Swiss billionaire attempts to break around the world record

Published 1748 GMT (0148 HKT) December 4, 2015
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Swiss businesswoman Dona Bertarelli is attempting to break the record for the fastest time circumnavigating the globe -- otherwise known as the Jules Verne Trophy. Eloi Sichelbaut/Spindrift racing
Sailing the Spindrift 2 trimaran, skippered by French sailor and long-term partner Yann Guichard, Bertarelli is aiming to break the mark -- 45 days 13 hours 42 minutes 53 seconds -- set by Loick Peyron and his crew in 2012. Eloi Sichelbaut/Spindrift racing
Bertarelli had never thought about offshore sailing before meeting Guichard, but fell in love with the idea after spending 10 days at sea sailing the Discovery Route in 2012. Eloi Sichelbaut/Spindrift racing
Prior to that the 47-year-old Bertarelli had a wealth of sailing experience of her own, twice winning the much-coveted Bol d'Or Mirabaud in her homeland -- the first woman in history to do so -- as well as co-skippering the Maxi Spindrift 2 team to victory in the 45th Rolex Fastnet race. Eloi Sichelbaut/Spindrift racing
Bertarelli took time to sign autographs for the budding generation of potential Jules Verne Trophy winners prior to her departure with Guichard. Eloi Sichelbaut/Spindrift racing
Her visit to the Notre Dame School of La Trinité along with Guichard was part of a partnership her Spindrift team is involved with. They presented the pupils and teachers with teaching kits related to their around the world adventure, including geography, nature and animals. Eloi Sichelbaut/Spindrift racing
"I was introduced to off-shore sailing through Yann because he was doing that already for a long time -- he did the Jacques Vabre four times and he holds two Atlantic records," said Bertarelli. Eloi Sichelbaut/Spindrift racing
"At first, the reaction was that we wanted to sail for the Olympics but we soon realized that it would not be possible because he's French and I'm Swiss and it would take too many years to get the nationality right," she explained. Eloi Sichelbaut/Spindrift racing
"So we abandoned that project quite quickly and when Spindrift 2 -- which was the ex Banque Populaire 5 -- came for sale then we said, 'Okay but what about breaking records, what about offshore sailing?'" Eloi Sichelbaut/Spindrift racing
Bertarelli admits that she didn't even ask to try Banque Populaire before buying it, she just crossed her fingers and hoped for the best. Eloi Sichelbaut/Spindrift racing
"I was hoping that I would not be sick, that I would be able to have a role on board which I really wanted, that I would be able to help because that was my challenge," she added.
Eloi Sichelbaut/Spindrift racing
Bertarelli is currently ahead of the current record and well on course to secure the Jules Verne Trophy. Eloi Sichelbaut/Spindrift racing