The Great Pacific Race: Rowing Oceans For Women
In a world where challenges seem limitless and boundaries are meant to be pushed, there are some individuals who embark on awe-inspiring challenges. In 2024, four women, who make up Rowing Oceans For Women, will be rowing unassisted across the Pacific Ocean in The Great Pacific Race. Join us as we delve into their journey, exploring the stories of these women, what motivates them, and the physical and mental strength it takes to undertake this extraordinary challenge.
First, let's meat the team!
A Los Angeles native, Gabe currently works in real estate. She enjoys running, working out, scuba diving, mentoring foster youth and spending time with her dog, Ellie. An adventure seeker at heart, Gabe has traveled to forty countries and is looking forward to adding the race to her bucket list of adventures. Gabe wants to accomplish something that on paper seems impossible, and she wants to prove to herself that she can reach this achievement that is out of her comfort zone.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Kaitlyn was involved in different sports growing up. Since college, she has been looking for the familiarity of competition and sense of team again; however, she wasn't able to find anything that truly got her excited until she learned about the race. This is an opportunity to bring a sense of purpose back to her life and test her physical, mental, and emotional self once again. In her free time, Kaitlyn enjoys cooking, traveling, volunteering at her local animal shelter, and going to the gym.
Growing up in Knoxville, Hannah knew from a young age that she wanted to attend the University of Tennessee. She dreamed of being a Lady Vol and eventually rowed crew at UT. After a successful rowing career, Hannah began running marathons and Ultra marathons. Now, she can be found running in Seattle, coaching high school track, or taking classes at Orange Theory. Hannah has aspired to row across the Pacific since she was in high school when she saw her coach complete the challenge. She is beyond excited to finally begin this new adventure.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Megan works in hospitality and has lived in four different states. She currently lives in Hawaii with her dog Macchiato, and in her spare time, she loves cooking, mixology, working out, exploring, and snorkeling. After hearing about the race from her sister, Gabe, Megan decided to sign up for the race as she wants to prove to herself that she can accomplish this seemly impossible challenge, and she wants to share this incredible journey with her sister.
JL Racing: Tell us a little bit about your backgrounds with rowing. How did you get into the sport?
Gabe: I started rowing in college when one of my friend’s encouraged me to come to crew tryouts with her.
Kaitlyn: I had actually never rowed before. My high school and college didn’t offer rowing so I wasn’t really exposed to the sport until I found out about ocean rowing.
Hannah: My rowing career began my freshman year of high school at Atomic Rowing in Oak Ridge, TN. From that moment on I was hooked, I was able to row at The University of Tennessee and return to my home team as a women’s novice coach as well!
Megan: Prior to joining RO4W, I’ve never rowed before, but my first exposure to rowing was watching my sister when she was in college. I was always intrigued by rowing, but didn’t have the opportunity to try it until now.
JL: When did you start considering rowing across the Pacific? How did that idea turn into an actual plan to do the row?
Gabe: Last summer, I watched the Lat 35 women’s team beat the world record for fastest female row across the Pacific. I was instantly inspired and desperately wanted to enter the 2024 race but thought that finding teammates would be hard. Our team seamlessly came together within 8 weeks of my decision to start building a team and that’s when I knew that this crazy dream was going to become a reality.
Kaitlyn: I remember last year I had seen a video about the all women’s team Lat35 row the race and I was so inspired, but immediately assumed that this must be for only the elite of elite rowers. There was then another follow up post about how you could do it too and I was hooked instantly. Gabe then ended up reaching out to me about putting together a team and the rest is history.
Hannah: My high school coach Ryan Worth actually completed this row when he was about my age. I remember him telling us stories about it and being mind blown. After hearing about his adventures and how much I looked up to him while in high school I knew this was something I would eventually do as well. He’s actually how I heard about this race, while I was living in Hawaii he called me up and got me in contact with the right people.
Megan: After hearing about GPR from Gabe and doing extensive research on ocean rowing and the Lat 35 women’s team’s race, I decided that I wanted to join my sister, Gabe, on this incredible journey. It’s a challenge that seems impossible on paper, but after coming together with Gabe, Kaitlyn and Hannah, I know that we’re ready to take on the race and any challenge we face.
JL: What are the details of the challenge?
RO4W: The Great Pacific Race starts in San Francisco, CA and ends on Oahu, HI. The world record is 34 days, 14 hours, 20 minutes and we are aiming to break this record.
JL: How do you train for a challenge like this?
RO4W: We spend a lot of time lifting and erging. In a typical week, we have 3 erg sessions and 2 lift sessions. Even though we have rest days programmed in, we typically spend it doing a watered down workout. During the race we will row in approximately 2 hour shifts so on Saturdays we do a long erg and spend 2-3 hours on the erg to prepare for the race. Shout out to our coach Gus Barton of Ocean Ready for helping us prepare for this race!
JL: What are you most excited for during the training and challenge?
Gabe: I am most excited to spend time with my teammates during training and the challenge and building bonds with them. During the race, I am most excited to see the stars at night. Growing up in Los Angeles, seeing a clear night sky isn’t common so being able to look up at the stars every night will be really special.
Kaitlyn: The most exciting thing for me is being able to train with a team again. Even though we all live somewhat far away from each other, it’s really refreshing to work towards a common goal with others and to hold one another accountable for attaining that goal. I’m also stoked to do karaoke in the middle of the ocean.
Hannah: Part of our row is raising awareness and money for a domestic violence shelter. I’m most excited to bring awareness to something that happens to one in four women. Being a former victim of domestic violence this row is my opportunity to see how strong I’ve become since then and raise awareness for something so close to me.
Megan: I’m very excited to be able to spend time with our team, to raise awareness for women in sports and domestic violence, and to accomplish this challenge together.
JL: What are some challenges that you will face during the training and the row?
RO4W: We are expecting to encounter many challenges during our crossing including: rapidly changing weather, sleep deprivation, hunger, seasickness, salt sores, darkness, equipment failure and more. During training, the biggest challenge we are encountering is raising enough funds to get to the start line.
JL: What do you hope to accomplish by completing this challenge? Do you have a specific goal?
Gabe: My goal is to win the race and set a new world record for the fastest mid-pacific crossing.
Kaitlyn: Obviously as a team we want to break the record, but personally I’m using it as a growth opportunity for myself as well. I always told myself that I didn’t want to feel trapped in the 9-5 attitude since I fully believe that as humans we aren’t meant to just wake up every day and work strictly for the future. I want to live for now and prove to myself that while taking the other path can be terrifying, it’s much more rewarding and fulfilling.
Hannah: Set a world record and empower women to get out of a potentially dangerous situation and show them how powerful they are.
Megan: As Gabe said, our goal is to win the race and set a new world record for the fastest mid-pacific crossing.
JL: Is there anything else you would like the rowing community and public to know about this challenge?
Kaitlyn: It is so much work preparing for something like this! I like to consider it my second job at this point. Also, if you choose to do this, coffee will be your biggest friend.
Hannah: Sometimes you just got to send it.
Megan: I hope our race will inspire people to take on their biggest challenges and will bring more awareness for the Women’s Sports Foundation and Domestic Violence Action Center.
JL: What is your favorite style of JL garment and why?
Gabe: I love the trou shorts because they are really comfortable to erg in!
Kaitlyn: Love the quarter zips. I’ve always been a lover of quarter zips, but these just get the job done so nicely.
Hannah: I’m a rower, I love a good unisuit with the skinny straps IYKYK.
Megan: I love the quarter zips!
JL: How can the rowing community follow along or participate in your journey?
RO4W: The rowing community can follow along on our Instagram @rowingoceans4women, and they can support us by donating on our Ship Shop, which includes an assortment of items ranging from coffee to equipment to certification classes that we need for the race and are trying to raise funds for.