29-Year-Old Becomes First American Woman To Complete Solo Sailing Race Around the World

As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” This certainly applies to New York-born competitive sailor Cole Brauer, the first American woman to competitively sail solo around the world. Her even keel personality and highly informed knowledge of the sport are the perfect recipe for success, as Brauer serves as a pillar in this industry. The 29-year-old began the Global Solo Challenge departing from A Coruña, Spain, in October 2023. Finally, she made her way back to land in March 2024, aboard her vessel named First Light. This competition is for sailors who desire a challenge to circumnavigate the sea, sharpening their skills with each wave they leave behind them.

Throughout her months at sea, Brauer was not phased by the wildly unpredictable behaviors of Mother Nature. She worked tirelessly towards achieving her incredible feat. Along the way, the determined competitor chronicled her 130-day journey at sea on Instagram. In addition to documenting her experiences, Brauer also educates her viewers on various sailing terminology and the application of different sailing techniques. For example, she references the term “reefing” the sail. This means to lower your sail to accommodate increases in wind, allowing the vessel to maintain a manageable speed that allows its captain to have more controlled steering.

As a former student of the University of Hawai'i, Brauer achieved many academic and athletic achievements. From earning the 2017 Jack Bonham Award for academic and athletic performance to being a part of the Intercollegiate Sailing Association Academic All-American Team twice, she continues to raise the bar. And with this latest challenge, Brauer had opportunities to refine her skills in the unique backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.

As the youngest competitor in the Global Solo Challenge, Brauer overcame the intense gales of the open sea. Even as water began to pile into her vessel, she quickly decided to use the pump to eliminate the excess. Extreme temperature changes, intense turbulence, and the uncertainty of what the next day would hold did not stop her from persevering. Thinking quickly on her feet, Brauer also made repairs to her vessel during the race. In an Instagram clip, Brauer addresses how her hydro generator was not functioning properly. She calmly identifies the problem and makes a plan to fix it. Ultimately, she is responsible for navigating the vessel and making any necessary repairs along the way. Through her social media videos, Brauer shows vulnerability by sharing the difficulties that she encountered throughout this challenge, while maintaining her composure.

As she circumnavigated from Spain to South Africa and Australia, Brauer finally crossed the Atlantic Ocean back to her starting point—A Coruña. Her dedicated spirit, enthusiasm for life, and desire to inspire young women to pursue their dreams shone through her expedition.

To stay up to date with Brauer’s future adventures, you can follow her on Instagram.

Cole Brauer has made history as the first American woman to race a sailboat solo around the world.

She spent 130 days at sea as she circumnavigated around the world.

Each day, sailing on the ocean brought daylight and a fresh horizon for Brauer.

She approached life at sea with an open mind and joyful spirit.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by North Sails (@northsails)

Brauer relished in the breathtaking scenery that accompanied her expedition.

She also made sure to spend time recharging her battery with a little self care.

Along the way, Brauer shared her journey with her followers, marking how far she'd traveled and how much was left.

In the end, the inspiring young woman completed her journey by earning second place in the Global Solo Challenge.

Cole Brauer: Facebook | Instagram
h/t: [Good News Network]

Related Articles:

83-Year-Old Japanese Man Becomes the Oldest Person To Sail Solo Across the Pacific Ocean

Traveling Photographer Captures the Exciting Freedom of Sailing

World’s Largest Full-Rigged Sailing Ship Offers Luxury Onboard a Traditionally Designed Vessel

Mia Santarelli

Mia Santarelli is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Based in eastern Kansas, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Italian Language Studies from the University of Kansas and received an MA in Art History from the Savannah College of Art & Design. Visual storytelling mediums such as photography and film inspire her to capture her own snapshots of the most unexpectedly beautiful places throughout her travels. She also has a passion for learning languages, fueling her desire to learn more about different cultures.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content