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Last Updated: Monday, 3 November, 2003, 12:06 GMT
Windsurfer crosses Pacific

By Phil Mercer
BBC, Sydney

A French woman has arrived in Tahiti after windsurfing 8,000 kilometres across the Pacific Ocean.

Raphaela Le Gouvello began her adventure at the start of August, leaving the Peruvian capital, Lima, on a specially built surfboard, which allowed her to eat and sleep in special watertight compartments.

Raphaela Le Gouvello arrives in Tahiti
Raphaela le Gouvello was welcomed in Tahiti after her 89-day crossing

Ms Le Gouvello has previously windsurfed across the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

It was an amazing maritime adventure.

Seasickness and the cold, as well as the threat posed by sharks, were among the many challenges the French explorer has had to overcome during the past 89 days.

The route across the Pacific from Lima to Papeete is straight, but inclement weather and unpredictable swells make the crossing extremely hazardous, especially for a lone sailor on a surfboard that is less than eight metres long.

Raphaela Le Gouvello spent around seven hours a day at the sail.

Help from the European Space Agency provided a craft with an airbag system, which guarded against capsizing.

Electricity on board was generated by solar cells, while satellite navigation ensured she was heading in the right direction across some of the most isolated stretches of water to be found anywhere.

She was escorted into the French Pacific territory of Tahiti by a flotilla of jet skis, yachts and canoes.

Ms Le Gouvello plans to resume her extraordinary journey next year, sailing to New Caledonia and then on to northern Australia.

Raphaela Le Gouvello
talks to the BBC's East Asia Today programme

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