Cole Brauer becomes first American woman to race sailboat alone and nonstop around world

A CORUNA, Spain — Alone, Cole Brauer braved three oceans and the elements as she navigated her sailboat for months.

Brauer, who stands all of 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 100 pounds, is one of more than a dozen sailors competing in the Global Solo Challenge. Brauer was the youngest and only woman in the group who left A Coruna in October.

The starts were staggered. Brauer left on October 29. As of Thursday, some in the field had dropped out of the race.

The race took her 130 days to complete.

“This is really cool and so overwhelming in every sense of the word,” NBC News told Brauer before she drank champagne from her trophy Thursday as she was celebrated by family and fans.

Although Brauer is the first American woman to travel the world alone by sea, she is not the first woman to do so. Polish sailor Krystina Chojnowska-Liskiewicz completed her 401-day circumnavigation of the world on April 21, 1978, according to online sailing sites.

Kay Cottee of Australia was the first woman to accomplish this feat non-stop. She departed Sydney Harbor, Australia, in November 1987 and returned 189 days later.

Traveling the world is not easy, even on a ship with a full crew.

“Solo sailors, you have to be able to do everything,” Brauer told the NBC “Today” show on Thursday. “You have to be able to take care of yourself. You have to be able to get up even when you are so exhausted. And you have to be able to repair everything on the boat.”

Satellite communications allowed Brauer to stay in touch with her race team and connect with fans on social media, where she posted videos of the race and her boat, “First Light.”

Along the way, she encountered 30-foot (9.1-meter) waves that threw her around the boat, according to NBC News.

She injured a rib and even gave herself an IV to prevent dehydration.

Sailing solo means not only being a skipper, but also a project manager, says Marco Nannini, the race organizer. That means steering the ship, making repairs, knowing the weather and keeping yourself healthy, he said.

“The greatest asset is your mental strength, not your physical strength,” Nannini said. “Cole shows that to everyone.”

One of Brauer’s social media posts on December 8 showed her frustration.

“I haven’t really had the bandwidth to go into everything that’s happened in the last 48 hours, but the short version is that the autopilot has gone haywire again and I’ve had to replace some parts and recalibrate the rudder ” she wrote. . “For once the light air really helps, but it’s tiring and I’m sore and tired.”

“It’s all part of the journey, and I’m sure I’ll feel better once the work is done and I get some sleep,” Brauer added. “But right now, things are tough.”

But she has done the hard work, even though some in the sport believed it would not be possible due to her gender and small stature.

“I push that much harder when someone says, ‘No, you can’t do that,’ or ‘you’re too small,'” Brauer said.

“It would be great if there was just one other girl who saw me and said, ‘Oh, I can do that too,’” she added.

Leave a Comment