Find out what Ellen MacArthur and Dee Caffari always have on them! YBW asked professional and amateur sailors what they kept in their sailing jacket pocket when they are out on the water. What do you keep in yours? Let us know!

Dame Ellen MacArthur

Dame Ellen MacArthur

Credits: © Joss Blériot / Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Dame Ellen MacArthur first hit the headlines when she came second in the 2000-2001 Vendée Globe.

Aged just 24, she became the youngest competitor to ever finish the race, the fastest woman around the globe and only the second person to go round-the-world solo in under 100 days.

The yachtswoman then went to claim the world record for a single-handed non-stop circumnavigation on board the 75ft trimaran B&Q.

She took the record on 7 February 2005, having sailed for 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes, 33 seconds. The previous record holder, French sailor Francis Joyon reclaimed the title in January 2008.

Now retired from professional sailing, Dame Ellen founded the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, which helps young peoples regain their confidence after treatment for cancer and leukaemia.

She also runs the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a charity that works with business and education to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

5 things in my pocket:

Knife – I never sail without a knife
Phone – Especially if I am sailing on the coast. It also has my nav software on there and I can get weather information
Waterproof case for the phone, as electronics and seawater don’t mix
Piece of flapjack which has to be homemade
Cup of tea…it’s not really in your pocket…oh..perhaps a compass….no, cup of tea as I have a compass on the boat.


Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith and her husband David and children Bryn and Bethany

Sarah Smith with her husband, David and their two children, Bethany and Bryn. Credit: David Ball

Freelance medical writer, Sarah Smith left the UK in 2007 with her husband, David and their children, Bethany, then 9, and Bryn, 7, on board their 43-foot Bermudan sloop, SY Cape.

The family sailed from their home port of Aberystwyth in Wales to Ireland, on to Spain and Portugal, into the Mediterranean for a few years, on to the Canaries and then to The Gambia in west Africa before crossing the Atlantic to the Caribbean in 2012.

They have spent the last four years exploring the Eastern Caribbean island chain.

Working and home schooling as they go, the Smith family is now in their tenth year of live-aboard cruising and the home schooling phase is coming to an end.

Daughter Bethany, now 18, has left home to work on a classic yacht, and Bryn, 17, is studying for his IGCSEs by distance learning with a school in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Cape, a Gitana 43, is currently on the hard undergoing a refit to kit her out for the next set of sailing adventures.

5 things in my pocket:

Phone – a waterproof, dual-SIM phone that doubles as a camera and torch, and provides 4G internet, access to email, and acts as a portable wi-fi hotspot
Lip salve
Good old-fashioned Swiss Army knife (for the corkscrew)!


Dee Caffari

Dee Caffari

Dee Caffari has sailed around the world five times.

In 2006, she became the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world against the prevailing winds and currents and was awarded an MBE in recognition of her achievement.

In 2009, Caffari completed the Vendée Globe – making her the only woman to have sailed single-handed, non-stop around the world in both directions.

In April 2011, she successfully completed another circumnavigation. With completion of the Barcelona World Race, Caffari became the only woman to have sailed three times around the world non-stop.

She joined Team SCA in 2014, the all-female entry into the Volvo Ocean Race.

During training, the team successfully claimed the Round Britain and Ireland speed record for a female crewed monohull in 4 days 21 hours and 39 seconds.

Caffari is actively involved in a number of charities including the RNLI, UKSA, Sail 4 Cancer and the RYA Green Blue Campaign helping to promote a better marine environment.

5 things in my pocket:

Tissues, as my nose runs
Lip salve
Electrical tape as you always have to mark something
Wet Notes so I can write information down
A treat – my favourite is Harabo Starmix
(BTW – I keep my Leatherman on my belt!)


Nigel Stuart, Managing Director of Spirit Yachts

Nigel Stuart, MD of Spirit Yachts

Nigel Stuart joined Spirit Yachts as managing director in August 2014 following seven years at Discovery Yachts.

He started sailing aged seven on a lake in Germany.

In his younger years, he sailed dinghies in the UK, Germany and Hong Kong before he developed a passion for wind surfing aged 16.

In his 20s he worked in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, sailing dinghies and yachts almost daily; during this time he also undertook his RYA senior instructors and yacht masters courses.

In his thirties, Nigel returned to the UK and started actively racing catamarans with his wife, Sarah. In 2013, he built his catamaran CROWNS (which is an acronym of the initials of his family) in epoxy carbon using infusion method. Nigel and Sarah have won numerous events with CROWNS, winning the annual series several times and they have been national champions.

With over 20 years’ marine management experience, Stuart has worked with cruising yachts worldwide and is a successful catamaran racer in his spare time.

5 things in my pocket:

Race watch as I do a lot of racing
Lip balm so I don’t burn my lips
Beer tokens i.e money!


Charlie Thomson, Commodore of the Royal Western Yacht Club.

Charlie Thomson, Commodore of the Royal Western Yacht Club.

Charlie Thomson has been a member of the Royal Western Yacht Club of England since 2004, having various roles on the board until he became Commodore in 2015.

He and his wife, Babs both share a passion for sailing, in fact they met racing Lasers in Salcombe almost 30 years ago.

Between them they have owned and sailed some 20 boats of various shapes & sizes.

They currently sail Prima, a Dehler 43 (where you can usually see a springer/collie pottering around the deck!) and also Archimedes, a Squib which they race regularly at Plymouth.

5 things in my pocket:

Phone – it’s got all the pub numbers on it
Boat key
Fold up glasses
Dog lead.


Pippa Wilson

11 top female sailors

We've compiled a list of some of the top female sailors in the world. Who would you nominate?