Female Ocean Rower Attempts Record-Breaking Solo Crossing

By: Discovery

Updated June 25, 2020

On June 17th, ocean rower Lia Ditton set off on a 20 ft. long rowboat, alone and unsupported, in an attempt to set the fastest ever time for a solo crossing from San Francisco to Hawaii.

June 23, 2020

The voyage is 2,500 nautical miles from San Francisco, California to the islands of Hawaii. Currently, the women’s record stands at 99 days and the men’s record at 52 days. The women’s record goes to the island of Oahu and the men’s record goes to the Big Island. Ditton’s goal is to beat the record for fastest solo row for any human, man or woman.

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EXPLORATION | Lia Ditton Attempts to Set Solo Ocean Row Record 02:19

Female ocean rower, Lia Ditton, is attempting to set the fastest ever time for a solo crossing from San Francisco to Hawaii. Rowing in a 20 ft. long rowboat, alone and unsupported, will she beat the women's and men's record?

Who is Lia Ditton?

Ditton is a licensed captain and professional adventurer. The London-born 40 year-old has been training from her base in San Francisco and has spent the final few weeks before setting off wiring her own boat, ensuring all the necessary equipment was on-board, and packing enough food for 75 days while keeping her boat as light as possible.

For the past several years. Ditton has been preparing herself and her boat to ensure she’s ready to take on the challenge of rowing 5500 miles from Japan to San Francisco in spring 2021, bidding to succeed where 19 other attempts have failed. She has completed several long training rows off the west coast of America, and most recently, a successful 728-mile, 24-day training row from Ilwaco, Washington to San Francisco in September 2019. Her mission to become the first solo rower to cross the North Pacific

Challenges Lie Ahead

The waters that lie ahead aren’t for the faint of heart. After departing under the famous Golden Gate Bridge, Ditton’s journey will require her to navigate the Continental Shelf before facing the possibility of ship encounters, extreme weather, and currents, and the travelling through the ‘Shark Café’.

“The Continental Shelf, which is almost always rough, will be a major milestone. I will also have to row right through ‘Shark Café’, an area where Great White Sharks leaving San Francisco are tracked by conservationists,” says Ditton. “From anywhere between 250 miles and 750 miles, I will hope to pick up the Trade Winds to nudge me on my way. It is certainly not over, until it’s over, as from mid-July to August, the chances of hurricanes increase, while the Hawaiian Islands feature tropical microclimates, strong winds and currents around their shores.”

Angela Madsen - In Memoriam

The journey that Lia has ahead of her is beyond difficult, but this week just after Lia's start a tragedy occurred. Fellow distance rower, Angela Madsen, was on a similar journey to Lia. She left Southern California with her destination as Hawaii just about a month ago. During some routine in-water maintenance, Angela lost her life. This accomplished retired Marine and gold medal Paralympian lost her life at sea doing what she loved to do, and the news was delivered to Lia, see her moving message here.

You can follow Ditton’s voyage in real-time here.

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