At 11:34 AM yesterday, 28-year-old British adventure sports athlete Sarah Outen arrived in Adak in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, making her the first person to row solo over the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Alaska. The distance was around 3,750 nautical miles, but what is more notable is that it was done in the unforgiving weather and sea conditions of the North Pacific. Outen and her boat “Happy Socks” left the coast of Chosi, Japan on April 27, 2013 and made land on Adak 150 days later.
Outen had initially planned to make land in Canada, but weather conditions in the North Pacific had hampered her progress. She then decided to head north towards Alaska, which was the quickest route to land, and probably the safest too. She had encountered numerous challenges and difficulties on this leg of her London2London expedition. The North Pacific storms have confined Outen to her cabin for days and according to her, the boat had capsized five times along the way. The last few hundred miles were particularly grueling even for the seasoned adventurer, as Outen described that going further north made the rowing more demanding because of the falling temperature and poor light. Just this week, as she was nearing land, she narrowly missed a cargo ship.
Outen’s “London2London Via The World” expedition has already covered kayaking and cycling from London to Japan via Europe and Asia. “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. And it has been a privilege,” Outen said after landing in Alaska. “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,” the athlete added, as she will be flying home to London after this leg. “I am so excited to be including Alaska in my journey and look forward to continuing next year.”
Outen had initially tried to leave Japan to cross the Pacific in June 2012, but she was stuck in a storm around three weeks into her journey off the coast of Sendai in northeastern Japan. She was then rescued by the Japanese Coast Guard. She waited another year to restart the journey and has finally become the first person to row across the Pacific at age 28.