HONOLULU (KHON2) — Lat 35 Racing’s first all-female rowing team crossed 2,400 nautical miles of Pacific Ocean in record time. From San Francisco to Waikiki, it took four women 34 days, 14 hours and 20 minutes to become world record holders — and they didn’t have any sailing experience!
“I know what me and the girls did was pretty insane, but anybody can do this,” said Adrienne Smith, one of the four women on the team.
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Smith spent 34 days at sea with Libby Costello, Sophia Denison-Johnston and Brooke Downes. They rowed in pairs for two hours, 24 hours a day, sleeping no more than 90 minutes at any given point in time.
“In the beginning, all we did was sleep in between shifts,” said Smith. “We had prepared food beforehand so that we didn’t have to make our food, and we could spend the energy just adapting to sea life.”
She said it took them about four days into their voyage to get out of their sleepy “this is hard” mentality and focus on getting to their destination. For Smith, the most challenging part was not knowing how long it would take.
“You could sense the control that we wanted to have because the whole journey was so uncertain,” Smith explained. “How long was it going to take? How fast were we going to go? What were the conditions going to be like? And we would start calculating and ruminating about how long it was going to take to get back to shore, yet try to stay fully present with where we were and enjoy the experience.”
For 34 days, the conversations went from everything to talking about what they dreamed that night, to their favorite music, to how they were feeling, to deeper topics.
“I loved those kinds of conversations and just talking about interpersonal stuff. You know, we worked really well together as a team,” said Smith.
Smith shared that she was the last person to join the team, but it wasn’t really a personal goal of hers to row from California to Hawaii. The opportunity arose when her husband, who was training the team, only had three women and was still looking for a fourth.
“So the idea about it just got me excited to challenge myself, to do something new and just shake life up a little bit. I had needed a change,” said Smith. “Running a yoga studio during COVID was really challenging mentally and financially, and it just felt like that was the perfect time to say yes to something new, different and life expanding.”
Smith added that she didn’t know how to row, and none of them had any sailing experience. They all just had the desire to do something different and expand themselves in a way that made them feel the most alive. During their journey, Smith shared their experiences over social media — she was in charge of connecting the satellite and Wi-Fi.
“So we did that once a day, and obviously, as you can imagine, it takes a long time to download one megabyte of data in the middle of the ocean,” said Smith.
As they got closer and closer to Hawaii, she said they could see all the hotels line the shore, with a rainbow greeting them from above and the sounds of cheering.
“It was just like quintessential Hawaii of like the surfers, the surf break, the outriggers, the sailboats that were cheering us on,” said Smith, “and then as we headed into the harbor, there was a bunch of people on land holding signs. Everyone was cheering for us, and we just got the most warm welcome at the Waikiki Yacht Club.”
Her first thought when they reached shore?
“It’s happening. We’re here. This moment that we’ve all been waiting for and how long it’s going to take is finally getting answered, and there’s like a sense of overall excitement and gratitude and appreciation for each other and our bodies that they were able to hold up for this journey.”
After their long journey, Smith and her family spent time exploring the island, riding bikes and hiking. As a triathlete, she’s been to Hawaii a ton of times participating in the IRONMAN, but this was her first time on Oahu. It was a short vacation for Smith and her family who left on Tuesday, August 2, getting their daughter ready to start kindergarten.
“So my life will take a little bit of a shift in terms of my schedule and what I’m going to spend time and energy on,” said Smith. “I’ve had the dream and desire to do some public speaking and write some books — as in a kid’s book — about our journey and share this experience as a mom and business owner.”
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Smith wants people to know that it’s truly possible to set your goals on something, whatever it is, big or small, and be able to reach them like the Lat 35 Racing team did.