An Annapolis, Maryland, woman broke a rowing record this weekend. Lauren Champion and her teammate Lisa Roland of Brantford, Ontario, now hold the fastest time for a woman duo rowing across the Atlantic Ocean.
The pair left La Gomera on Dec. 13 and headed for open sea, competing in a rowing race called the World’s Toughest Row.
For 45 days, 1 hour and 27 minutes, Champion and Roland switched between rowing and sleeping every two hours, traveling 3000 nautical miles over open ocean with no assistance.
“It’s very much a familiar feeling with me because I grew up sailing with my family,” Champion told WTOP.
That’s not to say there were not struggles and rough seas along the way.
“The first week we were out there, we had gusting of 30 plus knots and the waves themselves were like mountains,” Champion said. “It looked like a building that was like two to three stories tall.”
She would row in the elements, including rain and beating sun, and then try to get as much rest as she could during her break.
“The kind of realization that you have to get up and keep going, which isn’t even really a thought so much as a driving force that like comes from even deeper,” she said.
They finished in Antigua on Saturday, Jan. 27. Once they docked, they were handed a banner announcing the world record-breaking speed.
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“You set something, you set this goal for yourself. And crossing an ocean is one thing. But, you know, the breaking a record … I still haven’t quite like digested what all that means,” she told WTOP.
Champion grew up sailing in Annapolis with her family. She studied at the University of Maryland and joined her brother in Antigua after college. That’s when her passion became her career.
“It was never really my intention to join the sailing industry,” said Champion about her life as a professional sailor. “That was the path that found me.”
Both Champion and Roland, working as Team Ocean Grown, developed the Bridges Over Water Fund, which aims to provide 10 young adults who have aged out of the foster care system with an opportunity to find a career suitable to them in the maritime industry.