Ocean Rower Angela Madsen On Her Way to Hawaii

Back in March, just as the global pandemic was starting to shut things down, I shared the story of of Angela Madsen. She’s a paraplegic athlete who has made several significant journeys by rowboat, including crossing the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. At the time, just as the rest of us were going into lockdown-mode, she was in the final stages of preparing for an attempt to make a solo crossing of the Pacific from California to Hawaii.

As it turns out, she not only launched that voyage in late April as she had expected, she’s now about a third of the way to her destination.

According to Madsen’s Pacific Ocean Row page, she has now spent 35 days at seas, covering 998 nautical miles (1148 miles/1848 km). That leaves her with 1928 nm (2218 miles/3570 km) yet to go. So far, everything is going as planned and she is roughly still on schedule The veteran ocean rower projected it would day about 90 days to complete the crossing, and she is currently on pace to arrive in Hawaii fairly close to that estimate.

Recently, she conducted an interview with the team at Adventure Journal, sharing some thoughts from the open water. For instance, we learn that so far, the winds have been pushing her further south than expected, although she’s still hoping to catch the trade winds to help carry her west to Hawaii. So far, the winds have been brutal, making it harder to make solid progress along her intended course.

She’s also been knocked out of the seat a few times and faced some strong swells on this, her first solo ocean crossing. That alone caused some doubters to tell Madsen—who has made four previous ocean crossings—to not attempt this one, with the feeling that even though she is experienced, going it alone was just too dangerous.

The AJ interview with Madsen is an interesting read for a number of different reasons. For starters, you rarely get insights from a rower while they are still out on the water. After they’re back on land, and the journey is over, the perspective is different. Here, we get raw, unfettered insights in the middle of the expedition.

We also get a better understanding of the things that they concern themselves with on a daily basis. In this case, she isn’t thinking about reaching Hawaii, so much as she is fighting the wind and making progress towards completing the next mile.

Back when we first covered Madsen’s plans I mentioned that there weren’t many better ways to socially distance than to go on an ocean row. In the middle of the Pacific, she doesn’t have to worry about the coronavirus. The isolation that she finds out there on the water will protect her from some of the things happening back home. Heck, by the time she gets to Hawaii, she may just decide to just keep rowing.

Follow Angela’s progress here.

Kraig Becker