Michelle Lee, 46, becomes first Aussie woman to row Atlantic solo

Pic credit: Robin Skjoldborg

Sydney woman Michelle Lee has conquered the Atlantic, becoming the first Australian woman to row solo across any ocean.

The 46-year old rowed into English Harbour in Antigua this week, after 68 days, 12 hours and 49 minutes alone at sea.

“It was an honour, a pleasure and a privilege – but I have to say, it is such a relief that it’s over,” Michelle said as she stood on dry land for the first time in two-and-a-half months.

“Wow, there were days I didn’t think I was ever going to get here.”

During her 5000-kilometre journey, Michelle faced strong tides, storms, broken equipment,
health issues, injury and wildlife.

“I’ve never gone through so many emotions in my life,” she said. “Isolation, being overwhelmed, there’s been joy, I’ve been in awe of so many things, I’ve been anxious, nervous. I’ve gone through the lot.”

Michelle Lee Atlantic rower
Photo credit Robin Skjoldborg

Michelle’s feat is even more extraordinary for the fact that until two years ago, she had never held an oar.

Michelle was one of only five solo competitors to take part in the world’s toughest ocean race, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – today she was the first solo woman to cross the finish line in this year’s race. Her boat, the “Australian Maid” departed La Gomera in the Canary Islands on December 12.

“The wildlife, the dolphins. I had full on dolphin armies, and whale armies come through. The bird life was unbelievable every day.”

Atlantic rower Michelle Lee

Michelle said she hopes her journey inspires others to push their boundaries and chase their dreams.

“Determination, grit and integrity. Integrity for me is to finish what you start and to do what you’ll say you’ll do. They’re the big things for me.

“Start thinking you can, and you will. It’s that simple. That’s what all this started from”.
“I would do it again but certainly not solo.”


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