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September 25, 2013

Woman becomes 1st to row solo from Japan to Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A 28-year-old British adventurer became the first woman to row solo from Japan to Alaska, arriving late Monday at a small town in the Aleutian Islands after 150 days and 3,750 miles at sea.

"I have had some of the most intense and memorable months of my life out on the Pacific, it has been brilliant and brutal at the same time," Sarah Outen said in a statement. "And it has been a privilege."

Outen celebrated with a bottle of champagne in Adak, Alaska, and greeted community members and supporters, her first human contact in nearly five months, as first reported by the Anchorage Daily News.

"I have pushed myself to my absolute limits both physically and mentally to make land here in Alaska, and body and mind are now exhausted," she said.

She left Choshi, Japan, on April 27. It's part of her plan for a global trek by an ocean rowing shell, kayak and bike.

On Monday afternoon, Outen came within a half mile of the Alaska shore before winds and currents started pushing her onto the rocks. Her support team decided it was safer to tow her into Adak's small harbor.

On the row, she battled dangerous seas, and her boat, Happy Socks, capsized five times. She also fought the psychological battle of being alone. In the last few days, she almost hit a cargo ship after her radar failed, and she battled cooling temperatures and increasing darkness.

Outen also tweeted about whiteout fog and exhaustion-induced hallucinations in the final, treacherous miles to Adak, the newspaper reported.

But for Outen, who has a biology degree from Oxford University, seeing wildlife like albatross and whales made up for all the uncomfortable moments. According to the statement, the highlight was a shark circling her as she rowed.

Along the way, she also got engaged to her longtime girlfriend back home during a satellite phone call from the middle of the ocean.

She had initially wanted to row from Japan to Canada, but the punishing weather caused a course change to Alaska.

Next spring, she plans to return to Adak with a teammate, Justin Curgenven, to continue to mainland Alaska by kayak. She will then bike across Canada and North America before attempting a solo row across the Atlantic Ocean to the United Kingdom.

Outen's first attempt at the crossing ended in 2012 when she and another ocean rower had to be rescued near Japan after their boats were badly damaged in a tropical storm.

Before that, Outen became the youngest person and the first woman to row alone across the Indian Ocean in 2009, going from Australia to Mauritius.

 

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