Ealing yachtswoman Jeanne Socrates is the Amplifon Brave Britons Active Agers’ champion after becoming the world’s oldest person to singlehandedly sail the world non-stop.

Retired maths teacher Socrates set sail aboard her yacht Nereida, on a 25,000-mile journey from Victoria in Ontario, Canada in October 2018, arriving back in September 2019.

The 78-year-old overtakes Japanese yachtsman Minoru Saito, who completed a 233-day unbroken solo lap of the world in 2005 aged 71.

Socrates said: “I was quite surprised.

“People were talking about the other three finalists in my category, who had all done special things. I was sure that one of them would have got it.

“It’s a great honour and it’s fantastic that people believe what I’ve done is worthwhile.”

The judges added: “She was chosen as the winner for her bravery and endeavour by sailing 25,000 miles around the world single-handedly, not only once, but three times.

“And on her last voyage she broke the world record for being the oldest person to achieve the challenge. And all of this was done after losing her beloved husband George who she had learned to sail with when they were in their 50s.”

Socrates’ record-breaking trip wasn’t all plain sailing, as she suffered repeated setbacks, including major damage to the sails and wind power generator, alongside ‘major problems’ with instrument failure.

She explained: “I fixed the sails bit by bit on deck whenever the seas weren’t so bad and installed a spare set of blades to get the generator up and running. The instruments required a lot of rewiring, and I had people on radio who helped me out when I got stumped.

“It was pretty testing. I couldn’t believe how many things were going wrong.

“And if that wasn’t enough, I got to the final day or so and my steering cable was about to give way, so I was praying that I wouldn’t need to get towed to the finish.

“People talk about Murphy’s Law, and I think Murphy was living on my boat.”

Socrates’ feat has inspired many to keep doing what they love, even as they get older.

She added: “I’ve had loads of emails from people who were thinking of quitting something, but have decided not to after seeing what I’ve been up to, which is really nice.

“Age, seriously, is just a number. If you’ve got your health, a dream and you’re able to do it, you should take the chance.

“I hate the idea of sitting around in carpet slippers when I could’ve done something I didn’t do.

“I refuse to use the word age, I refuse to use the word old, and I certainly don’t look at those numbers.”

Socrates plans on getting back on her boat as soon as she can, although things are difficult at the moment due to the coronavirus.

She said: “Like thousands of people across the world, I’m frustrated because I can’t get out and do what I should be doing.

“I should’ve been back on my boat in June, mending it, replacing bits, then heading to Mexico, Polynesia and Australia.

“I’ve had friends over in America, where the boat is docked, and people from the manufacturers in Sweden, offering to replace some of the bits in my absence.”

Socrates believes you don’t have to be an Olympian to achieve sporting success later in life.

She added: “Mental attitude is what it’s all about. If you keep reasonably active and energetic, anything is possible.”