Jasmine Harrison, a 21-year-old swimming teacher from the landlocked town of Thirsk, North Yorkshire, UK, just became the youngest woman to row solo across any ocean. She finished the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, some 3,000 miles from the Canary Islands off Africa to Antigua in the Caribbean, in 70 days, 3 hours and 48 minutes.
Harrison stumbled when she took her first steps off her boat in Antigua’s English Harbour, but race officials caught her. She then said she was headed for a cold drink, a burger and fries.
Oddly enough, Harrison’s story ended where it began. She was in Antigua in 2018 teaching swimming and volunteering with Hurricane Maria relief, and she ended up sitting at a bar at Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour, talking with someone who was waiting for a relative to finish that year’s race. She was intrigued.
A few months later, while visiting Bulgaria, she decided to enter it herself because, she wrote on her website, rudderlymad.co.uk, “then I could be the youngest solo female to ever row an ocean and try to inspire more young people, particularly girls, to just give something a go.”
Once underway, Harrison rowed 20,000 strokes a day over 12 hours, breaking for rests, sleep and stretching. Her 21-foot boat, Argo, weighed just 550 pounds. It had a crew cabin and a supply cabin, 11 solar panels, and lots of peanut butter, Nutella, chocolate and biscuits.
The boat capsized twice, once at night when it hit a 20-foot rogue wave; she hurt her elbow. “I was basically thrown into a wall at 20 miles an hour,” Harrison said. “That’s going to hurt, especially in your sleep.” But she also had calm seas, particularly toward the end, and a pod of dolphins followed her for days.
Back on shore, Harrison said she didn’t know if she would try the Atlantic Challenge again, or do something else…solo. “I’ve been quite independent my entire life,” she said. Read more: