World Record Broken: Annapolis Woman Completes Fastest Row Across Atlantic Ocean

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Annapolis native Lauren Champion, left, and Canadian Lisa Roland, right, on Saturday broke the world record for the fastest women’s duo to row across the Atlantic Ocean. (Courtesy of World’s Toughest Row)

ANNAPOLIS, MD - An Annapolis woman and her partner recently broke the world record for the fastest women's duo to row across the Atlantic Ocean.

Lauren "Nini" Champion and her Canadian counterpart Lisa Roland finished the race in 45 days, 1 hour and 27 minutes. They shattered the previous record, set in 2021, by 5 hours and 58 minutes.

The race, called the World's Toughest Row, spans 3,000 nautical miles. It starts in La Gomera, Spain and ends in English Harbour, Antigua.

Team Ocean Grown crossed the finish line Saturday at 6:42 a.m. local time.

Rowing in a boat dubbed "Invictus," the race started with rough conditions.

"The first week we were out there, we had gusting of 30 plus knots and the waves themselves were like mountains," Champion told WTOP. "It looked like a building that was like two to three stories tall."

Team Ocean Grown rowed this boat, named "Invictus," from Spain to Antigua. (Courtesy of World’s Toughest Row)

Champion pushed through the adversity because this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"I want to live life to the fullest," Champion said in a race recap video. "I think taking on a challenge like this pushes you to your limits mentally and physically."

The partners rowed around the clock. One person rowed while the other slept. They switched every two hours.

Champion said it grew more challenging to wake up for her shift as the race progressed.

"You are aching everywhere and all of a sudden there is something deep within yourself saying - I gotta get up for my watch and keep going," Champion said in a press release. "There is this driving force that keeps you going. Maybe not the hardest moment but it’s definitely a moment where you overcome something."

As a child, Champion sailed around Annapolis with her family. She attended the University of Maryland before joining her brother in Antigua and becoming a professional sailor, WTOP said.

"It was never really my intention to join the sailing industry," Champion told WTOP. "That was the path that found me."

Lisa Roland, left, and Lauren Champion, right, celebrate after crossing the finish line. (Courtesy of World’s Toughest Row)

Champion is a rigging technician, and Roland is a sailing captain. They have 60,000 nautical miles of sailing experience between them.

The team carried 90 days worth of food. Their boat had a desalinator onboard that produced 20 liters of potable water per hour. 

They estimated that it would take 1.5 million oar strokes to row across the Atlantic. Ocean rowers lose an average of 26 pounds during the crossing.

"Such an epic adventure they’ve now completed and memories that will remain with them forever," Team Ocean Grown said on Facebook. "They encountered the physical challenges that come with rowing in treacherous weather conditions accompanied by the mental hurdles of extreme highs and lows along the way."

Ocean Grown also started the Bridges Over Water Fund to give 10 young adults who aged out of foster care the education necessary to start a maritime career. Applications opened Dec. 12, 2023, the day the race started. Applications will remain open for three months. More information is posted here.

Additional photos from the journey are viewable in this gallery.

Team Ocean Grown, pictured above, rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in just over 45 days. (Courtesy of World’s Toughest Row)
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