by Dom Wiseman

Sydney woman Michelle Lee has become the first Australian woman to cross any ocean solo in a rowboat, arriving in English Harbour, Antigua on February 19th AEST. The 46-year-old left La Gomera in the Canary Islands on December 12 and has spent the last  two and a half months rowing herself 5000 kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean, taking part in the world’s toughest ocean race, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Michelle has battled injury, digestive issues, a broken rudder and a pipi infestation on her journey, which has lasted 57 days so far – an incredible feat for a woman who only picked up an oar for the first time two years ago.

It’s been a rapid rise to the top for Michelle, who last year became the fastest woman to row one million metres, bagging her a world record. It took her just five days. In her first recorded phone call since setting off, Michelle admitted while the rowing schedule has been gruelling, she is in good spirits despite a few injuries.

“Holding up yeah, holding up,” Michelle said.

“I’ve got an open sore on my right hand on my ring finger – it’s giving me a little bit of curry and it just won’t heal.”

“She was originally aiming to complete her crossing in just 55 days, but the weather and a few injuries have slowed her down a little. My belief is that it will be between February 15 and 20, depending on the easterly winds.”

This year 28 teams have taken part in the race, with teams made up of between one and five people.

Learn more about the race here