These Four Women are Rowing Across the Pacific Ocean


The women in San Francisco, right before setting off on their epic journey. (Photo: Coxless Crew)

What do you get when you take one boat, one ocean, and four women?

The answer is the Coxless Crew, a team of four women who are rowing from San Francisco to Cairns, Australia, to inspire other women and raise money for charity.

The crew launched on April 20, and plan to cover 8,446 miles in their rowing boat named Doris — a bright pink craft that measures 29 feet by 7 feet. The trip will take about five to six months to finish (depending on the weather) and will be completed in three stages, with stops in Hawaii and Samoa. Those stops will last for about seven days and will allow the women to restock the boat, make repairs, and replenish supplies.

Each day, the women will consume coconut oil and freeze-dried meals, as well as snacks like cereal bars, nuts, and protein shakes. 

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The boat has two rowing positions. The other two women can use this time to rest in the cabin. (Photo: Coxless Crew)

If the team competes their journey, it will not only be impressive… it will be record breaking. This route has been completed by solo or pairs, but never by a team of four. They aim to set world records for the first all-female team to row the Pacific Ocean, the first fours boat to row the Pacific Ocean, and the fastest ever Pacific Ocean row.

This gutsy feat was the brain child of team captain Laura Penhaul, a Brit who took up rowing as a way to challenge herself both physically and mentally. “When I heard of the idea to row an entire ocean, it immediately appealed to me,” Penhaul told Self Magazine. “I had to learn a new sport from scratch, I would have to manage the project and support a team throughout it, all whilst working — it sounded perfect!”


The Coxless Crew training. (Photo: Coxless Crew)

The rest of the crew was selected through a rigorous interview process that involved strength conditioning, and psychometric analysis that tested their response under stressful situations. Emma Mitchell, Natalia Cohen, and Isabel Burnham were chosen to complete the fab foursome.

The original four will row the first leg, and then due to personal reasons, Burnham will return home, and two more rowers will take turns on the remaining two legs.

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From left: Isabel Burnham, Lauren Penhaul, Emma Mitchell, and Natalia Cohen make up the Coxless Crew. (Photo: Coxless Crew)

The money raised will go to support Walking with the Wounded and Breast Cancer Care survivors. Penhaul says that thinking about these charities will help to push her forward when times get rough. “The women who have been injured at war but didn’t let that stop them, the women that fought for their lives as they had no other choice and didn’t give up to fight against breast cancer,” said Penhaul. “I ask myself why should I give up when I’ve got a life worth fighting for, and so many others don’t get that choice.”

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