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Cole Brauer Back Home, In the Record Books

Thursday, March 7th 2024

Cole Brauer Back Home, In the Record Books

Cole Brauer, who lived in and sailed out of Boothbay Harbor for several years, has made history as the first U.S. woman to sail solo, nonstop, around the world.

The 29-year old sailed her 40-foot racing boat, First Light, into A Coruña, Spain, at 8:23 a.m. local time today (March 7) taking second place in the grueling Global Solo Challenge. Philippe Delamare finished February 24 to place first.

Fewer than 200 people have achieved a solo, nonstop circumnavigation since Sir Robin Knox-Johnston became the first man to do so in 1969. Kay Cottee was the first female to complete a solo circumnavigation in 1988. Cole Brauer is the 18th female and first US female to enter the history books for one of the toughest sporting endeavors there are.

She took 130 days 2 hours 45 minutes and 38 seconds, setting a new reference time for a solo circumnavigation on a 40ft boat, improving by around 7 days the previous record set by the late Guo Chuan in 2016, according to a press release from race organizers.

Brauer, who now calls Newport, Rhode Island home, was one of 16 skippers competing in the race. Half the skippers who started the race have been forced to drop out, including Ronnie Simpson whose boat was dismasted off the Argentinian coast. Simpson was sponsored by Shipyard Brewing.

Brauer was both the youngest skipper and the only female sailor in the fleet.

The Solo Global Challenge is a nonstop solo race around the three capes: Africa’s Cape of Good Hope; Australia’s Cape Leeuwin; and South America’s Cape Horn. The race has a pursuit start, meaning that competitors were assigned a start date based on their boat’s speed ratings.

Brauer, sailing her Class40 First Light, departed A Coruña, Spain, with six other boats on October 29. The record for a Class40 yacht for racing around the world solo and nonstop is 137 days. Brauer told the weekly Lincoln County News that she hoped to finish in 120 to 136 days. And she met that goal.

“First light is a call for more respect in sailing, sports, and in life,” Brauer told the Lincoln County paper before the race. “Even when everything seems to be going wrong and shrouded in darkness, the sun will always rise and the rebirth starts with first light. Any individual, no matter how small they might seem in the universe and society, can achieve great things.”

She first started sailing in Boothbay Harbor. “My parents started coming to Boothbay Harbor when I was 6,” she told the newspaper. “My grandparents lived in the village across from the footbridge, and we would visit a lot and spend holidays.” Eventually her parents moved there year round. After college Brauer worked at Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club as a sailing instructor while living at home and saving up to move out on her own.

For more information about the Global Solo Challenge, go to Brauer documented her experience on her Instagram account @colebraueroceanracing, racking up thousands of followers with her frank posts.

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