In February this year, Sydney woman Michelle Lee became the first Australian woman to row solo across any ocean and today, in recognition of her incredible effort, she will be awarded the Australian Geographic Adventurer of the Year Award.
At 46-years old, Michelle took 68 days, 12 hours and 49 minutes to cross the Atlantic Ocean, rowing 5,000 kilometres from the Canary Islands to Antigua and she’s now encouraging other women to push themselves to achieve their dreams.
“It’s time girls – let’s climb these mountains, scale the landscape, cross these oceans and make history with our determination, sense of adventure and desire to achieve our dreams,” Michelle said.
“Currently there are 27 male recipients of the Australian Geographic Society Awards and only 5 females and I want to inspire the girls to help even up the score.”
Alone in her rowboat, Michelle faced wild weather, swell, isolation, sea sickness, salt sores, sleep deprivation, blisters and other health problems.
“I now know that the mind rules the body and, when you think there is nothing left in the tank, there is at least another 35 days,” Michelle said.
“My struggles also go down in my diary with the good bits. They gave me a sense of the triumph and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Michelle rowed 14 hours a day and lost 14 kilograms over her journey, which she undertook as a competitor in the world’s toughest ocean race, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.
“My experience has enriched my life, thanks to all the people who helped me get to the start line, then the support during my crossing. There was a day without a breath of wind, not a ripple on the water – the silence was deafening, it was magical, eerie and precious.”
The Australian Geographic Society Awards are Australia’s longest running awards for adventure and Michelle said she was honoured to have her achievement recognised in this way.
Michelle will be one of seven winners presented with an award at the Australian Geographic Society Awards, held this evening at the Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney.
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