- Rowed over 4000 nautical miles from Australia to Mauritius
- 124 days on the Indian Ocean alone
- Three Guinness World Records
- Over £30,000 raised for arthritis charities
- Battled winds of up to 40 knots an hour
- Faced waves the size of four-storey buildings
- Survived being capsized
- And ate more than 500 Mars Bars along the way!
‘From the minute I met Sarah, I knew she was a very special person with fire in her belly.She said she was going to row the Indian Ocean …and she did’
Dame Ellen MacArthur
Soloing the Indian Ocean : 124 days
This ocean rowing lark is a bit niche market – more folks have climbed Everest than have rowed across oceans. Just two men had made successful solo crossings before I set out and, in a twelve strong fleet of an organised race in 2009, half the entrants retired. Only nine women have solo’d an ocean – and I was the youngest to do so at 2.4 decades, until 22 year old Katie Spotz solo’d the mid Atlantic in 2010. My crossing also makes me the first woman and youngest person to solo the Indian Ocean.
(see oceanrowing.com for statistics)
First there was a ‘Warm Up Lap’ in which I spent eleven days at sea, looping a massive 400 mile loop from Fremantle, Australia right back to Fremantle, Australia. The weather had conspired against me and the mighty Leeuwin current tested me. I started again on April 1st 2009. Failure isn’t failure if you learn some useful lessons.
It took me 124 days in my little custom-made rowing boat ‘Dippers’ to cover the 3,100 nauties (nautical miles) to Mauritius, arriving in time for tea on August 3rd after the most incredible adventures of my life. They were some of the most challenging times too, with mid ocean storms, capsizes, encounters with whales and a continuous bid to avoid squashing by container ships. I surfed with albatrosses, passed the time of day with my very own troupe of Pilot fish who escorted me across and was treated to the most incredible sunsets and sunrises I have ever seen.
Food was mostly very dull but 500 bars of chocolate kept me happy. I still lost 20 kg body weight.
While the shortest route to Mauritius is 3,100 nauties I clocked some 4,180 nauties on the log – all thanks to some feisty currents, teasing winds and general unpredictable Indian Ocean weather.
They were happy days out there, feeling truly alive in the elements and at one with my surroundings. It has confirmed my salty ambitions and made me yearn for more.
Getting the expedition off the ground was a mammoth project. All the training provided some of the best times of this crucial stage.
Body In the gym, on bikes, in boats and my two feet. Strength and endurance were the main focusses, with alot of cross-training. I completed the 125 mile Devizes to Westminster kayaking marathon in March 08, as well as running marathons and clocking up miles on the rowing machine and out on Dippers.
Mind Life is a mental game – so is the ocean. Oxford-based sports psychotherapist Dr Briony Nicholls was a key player in my team. My weather router Ricardo Diniz, a Portugese sailor, was another critical piece in the chess game of getting me across the ocean safely.
Technical This is an important aspect of the trip – knowing that I can stitch myself back together; fix the boat in an emergency and understand weather systems. Included Sea Survival, communications training, a 1600 mile yacht passage across the North Atlantic.
Sea trials Various training trips allowed me to prepare for life at sea, including a training camp under the guidance of Hungarian Gabor Raconzwai. Ultimately, the best practice comes from the expedition itself – you just need to know that you have done as much as possible.
If you’re strong up-top and have prepared well, then you have the best chance – stubborn and strong, and with a bit of luck you’ll weather the worst of the storms. It’s all about attitude, endurance and keeping happy.
The tracker – where on earth was sarah?
The tracker used live satellite updates from Sarah’s boat to record her progress. Use the controls at the side to zoom in and pan around.