Power voyagers have engines, sailors have the wind and ocean rowers have … muscles. In mid-September, British solo rower Lia Ditton finished a muscle-powered voyage from San Francisco to Hawaii. Ditton made the trip in 86 days, 10 hours, 5 minutes, and 54 seconds, an elapsed time that shaved 13 days off the women’s record for the trip previously set by Roz Savage at 99 days.
Ditton had originally been shooting for the overall record of 52 days set by rower Rob Eustace in 2014. Ditton reportedly ran into unfavorable weather early in her voyage that pushed the overall record out of reach.
Ditton was capsized twice and later in her passage flooded some compartments of her vessel to increase stability. The added weight did little to increase her speed. In sharply observed daily blog entries during the trip, Ditton wrote beautifully about shark attacks on yellowfin tuna and her morning ritual of clearing the deck of flying fish that crashed aboard in the night. She subsisted on freeze-dried spaghetti Bolognese and Thai chicken curry.
Earlier in the year, Litton had learned of the death of her friend and fellow long-distance rower Ruihan Yu of China, who had been attempting to cross the Pacific. Another solo rower, Angela Madsen, also attempting to row from California to Hawaii, was found dead attached to her boat near Hawaii in late June.
Ditton ended the passage with 18 hours of nonstop rowing in the Molokai Channel. She was attempting to not get swept south of the island of Oahu. She finished her record-breaking row in Honolulu.