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Briton sets new women’s rowing record despite capsizing twice and being told a fellow rower had died on the same route

A rogue wave capsized Ms Ditton’s 21-foot boat on July 6 and plunged her headfirst into the dark ocean.

She used all her strength to roll the boat back herself and rejected an idea to abandon the vessel.

She had to make a number of maintenance repairs, including changing the oarlock height after the base cracked, and conquered one of her greatest fears by twice leaving the boat to get in the water to remove barnacles.

Despite the hardships, there were also moments of joy, wonder and encounters with nature, as Ms Ditton witnessed spectacular rainbows, nighttime skies, sunsets and sunrises, while sharks, flying fish, yellowfin tuna, seabirds and squid all came close, or onto, her boat at different times.

Weather, navigation and safety officer Larry Rosenfeld said: “Lia did an amazing job, this row was so much harder than any of us ever imagined.

“She had done 1,000 miles down the California coast in one month and I thought that that would be a much harder row, but this row tested everything that she had right up to the last hour of the row.”

Waikiki Yacht Club Commodore Hideki Hayashi described Ms Ditton’s voyage as “a remarkable feat of endurance and determination”.

Ms Ditton plans to spend weeks recuperating before travelling home to her base in San Francisco.

Her next target is to try to become the first solo rower to cross the North Pacific, by making the 5,500 miles journey from Japan to San Francisco in spring 2021.

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