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New York skipper Cole Brauer, 29, becomes first US woman to sail solo around the world

new-york-skipper-cole-brauer,-29,-becomes-first-us-woman-to-sail-solo-around-the-world
New York skipper Cole Brauer, 29, becomes first US woman to sail solo around the world

She sailed her way into the history books. 

Cole Brauer, a 29-year-old skipper from Long Island, tearfully reunited with her family and drank champagne from her trophy after arriving in Spain Thursday morning, becoming the first US woman to sail solo around the world.

Brauer’s journey spanned over 130 days as part of the Global Solo Challenge, a daunting 26,000 nautical miles long race that began in October off the coast of A Coruña, located in northwestern Spain.

“I can’t believe it guys. I sailed around the world,” Brauer said as she approached the finish line in an Instagram live video. “That’s crazy. That’s absolutely crazy. This is awesome. Let’s just do it again. Let’s keep going!”

Cole Brauer, a skipper from New York, completed a solo trip around the world on her sailboat.

Cole Brauer, a skipper from New York, completed a solo trip around the world on her sailboat. Cole Brauer Ocean Racing

Brauer starts to celebrate as she nears the finish line in the Global Solo Challenge.

Brauer starts to celebrate as she nears the finish line in the Global Solo Challenge. Instagram

She’s also the lone woman in a field of 19 sailors, seven of whom remained in the race following a handful of withdrawals or abandonments. 

“This goal has always been to be the First American Woman to Race Around the World,” Brauer said, according to her sailing profile. “With this goal, I hope to show that this very male-dominated sport and community can become more open and less ‘traditional.’ “

Brauer documented the treacherous trip daily aboard her beloved racing boat, “First Light,” a 40-foot monohull sailboat that typically holds a one or two-person crew, for her 459,000 Instagram followers.

Brauer is the first US woman to accomplish the feat.

Brauer is the first US woman to accomplish the feat. Cole Brauer Ocean Racing

The race path took Brauer down the western coast of Africa before she sailed into the Southern Ocean in early December, where she’d overtake second place in the challenge.

She often showed fans her peaceful mornings and on-board workout sessions in the Atlantic Ocean. But didn’t shy away from being transparent about her hardships at sea. 

In December, Brauer suffered a rib injury when she was violently thrown across the “First Light” because of broaching, which is when a boat unintentionally changes direction toward the wind, amid the rough waters near Africa. 

“Solo sailors, you have to be able to do everything,” Brauer told NBC on March 3. “You have to be able to get up even when you’re so exhausted and you have to be able to fix everything on the boat.”

Brauer finished the challenge in second place.

Brauer finished the challenge in second place. Cole Brauer Ocean Racing

She reached the Pacific Ocean on December 29 and traveled past the southernmost point of South America and back into the Atlantic on January 27.

As she missed the holidays back home, Brauer decorated “First Light” with decorations fit for the occasion — pumpkins and ghosts for Halloween, a small felt Christmas tree, and broke out a dress and champagne for New Year’s Day. 

Brauer marked her 100th day at sea on Feb. 5.

She told the outlet that she started to feel the boat “deteriorating” and “starting to break down” as she made her final push through the Atlantic. 

She deliberately slowed her arrival time near the finish line to coordinate with the “first light” — when light is first seen in the morning — in honor of her boat’s namesake.

“I’m glad that out of all times, I’m coming in at first light,” Brauer said. “It’s only necessary.”

As she crossed the finish line, Brauer held two flares above her head to signal an end to her over four-month-long campaign.

French skipper Philippe Delamare, who started the race a month before Brauer, won the Global Solo Challenge on Feb. 24.

He spent 147 days and 1 hour traveling around the globe.

Brauer took on the challenge on her boat,

Brauer took on the challenge on her boat, “First Light,” which battled rough waves throughout the journey. Global Solo Challenge

Brauer grew up on Long Island and graduated from East Hampton High School in 2012.

She was introduced to sailing when she attended the University of Hawaii in 2014 and later found her footing in solo sailing.

Polish skipper Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz is the first woman to sail solo around the world, traveling 31,166 nautical miles from 1976 to 1978. 

In 2005, Dame Ellen MacArthur sailed 27,354 nautical miles in 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes 33 seconds, which, at the time was the fastest solo circumnavigation around the globe.

Brauer hopes to serve as the same inspiration as the sailing pioneers. 

“I push so much harder when someone is like, ‘you can’t do that.’ And I’m like, ‘OK, watch me,’ she told NBC. “It would be amazing if there was one other girl who saw me and said, “Oh, I can do that too.”

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