American Woman Makes History by Sailing Nonstop Around the World

American Woman Makes History by Sailing Nonstop Around the World

May 28, 2024 by Cathy Stack

A CORUÑA, Spain—Cole Brauer, 29, has made history by becoming the first American woman to complete a nonstop trip around the world by sailboat. She completed the 30,000-mile journey in her 40-foot (12.2-meter) sailboat over the course of 130 days. Fewer than 200 people worldwide have completed the treacherous and unpredictable journey.

Cole, a native of East Hampton, New York, attended the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa where she had a reputation as a powerhouse athlete. She won the Jack Bonham Award in 2017, the most prestigious award in UH athletics, and she competed on three national championship-qualifying sailing teams.

After graduation, Cole joined a sailing circumnavigation competition known as the Global Solo Challenge along with 16 other participants from around the world. She was the youngest competitor and the only woman in the race. The race started on October 19, 2023, in A Coruña, Spain.

The ambitious four-month adventure had Cole sailing across three oceans, famously known as the three “Great Capes.” She navigated her sailboat south around Africa and Australia, then crossed the Pacific Ocean to South America before returning north to Spain.

Often compared to scaling Mount Everest, the Global Solo Challenge tests sailors with unpredictable and harsh weather conditions. More than half of participants dropped out midway due to whipping wind and severe flooding issues that plagued the journey and damaged boats.

Cole overcame many hurdles on her journey toward victory. She stared down terrifying, 30-foot waves in frigid water. She had to play the role of crew, navigator and captain. She alone steered the boat away from stray icebergs, fixed faulty equipment and navigated the ever-changing weather patterns, all while working to maintain her physical and emotional health.

At one point, a massive wave slammed into the boat and Cole sustained a rib injury. She also experienced severe dehydration and endured the psychological toll of the 24/7 solitude. Through it all, she persevered.

When she had a chance for a break, she would sit on the boat’s bow and watch the radiant sunrise. She said those moments made the challenges worth it.

Cole returned to A Coruña to cross the finish line on March 7, 2024. She finished second out of 16 competitors. A cheering crowd of supporters, including family and friends, awaited her arrival on shore and cheered as she sailed in. Cole’s mother excitedly hopped aboard a nearby boat to accompany her daughter across the finish line.

“It would be amazing if there was just one girl that saw me and said, ‘Oh, I can do that too,’” said Cole of her history-making journey.

“Watch me,” she recalled thinking when some race sponsors doubted her abilities due to her 5’2” stature. “I push so much harder when someone’s like, ‘No, you can’t do that,’ or ‘You’re too small.”

The Foundation for a Better Life and PassItOn believe that Cole is a hero. Her action is an example of breaking barriers. Cole used her tenacity and resilience to defy convention. She has proven that a person can tap into mental strength to overcome adversity and obstacles. She is an inspiration for other young women around the world who hope to achieve their own dreams.

Watch video here:

Get Inspired, Sign Up to our PassItOn Blog:

Please tell us about your everyday hero. The heroes among us are ordinary people whose actions leave a lasting and positive impact in their communities and demonstrate the potential in all of us. Their heroic acts uphold our shared values. Help honor these individuals by creating a billboard and sharing their story at:

Help Celebrate Cole Brauer, by Sharing her Inspiring Story with Family and Friends: 

Pass It On®


Your Comments
Mary H. from Philadelphia MAY 29, 2024
Congratulations! You are amazing Cole! An inspiration for women all over the world.

Gary from Utah.  MAY 29, 2024
Great story!

Anonymous MAY 28, 2024
Absolutely AMAZING! Well done Cole! You are an inspiration to all women to never doubt their inner strength!

Here are some other inspiring posts you might like.