Cole Brauer is the second entrant to finish the Global Solo Challenge and has made history by becoming the first American woman to complete a solo, non-stop circumnavigation around the world via the three Great Capes

The goal of Cole Brauer was always to become the first American woman to race solo and non-stop around the world via the three Great Capes, and this morning, the 29-year-old made that dream a reality.

At 0723UTC, Cole crossed the finish line at A Coruña, Spain in her 2008 OCD Class 40, First Light, and made history.

Speaking after coming alongside, Cole Brauer said: “This is awesome, this is really cool. The sun’s out and this is really nice. Last night was really, really rough and tough but this really feels very good. When I first called Marco [Global Solo Challenge organiser], the first thing he said was you are going to get a lot of publicity and I was like, no, no, it will be OK, it will be a little bit, but this is well beyond every expectation. Thank you all for coming. It means more than you guys will ever know. I think I am done sailing for today! Let’s go get beers!”

A woman with dark hair on a sailing boat

Cole Brauer sailed a total of 27,910 nm miles during the race. Credit: Cole Brauer – First Light @colebraueroceanracing/Globe Solo Challenge

Cole Brauer was presented with her trophy by the winner of the Global Solo Challenge, Philippe Delamere, who crossed the finish line on 24 February.

“You deserve that a lot,” he told her. “I am very happy and proud; I am very happy and proud that you have this. One day someone will say do you know Cole, she is that girl doing really well in the Vendee [Globe] and I will say yes, of course I know, I gave her that trophy.”

Cole Brauer began sailing while living in Hawaii, where she attended university. In 2018, she decided to begin sailing solo, having read Ellen MacArthur’s book, Taking on the World.

“That was it. I was going to race solo around the world. I was going to do it as a 5’2’’ 100lb woman. Just like Ellen MacArthur. And the best part! I actually loved single-handed sailing more than fully crewed by a long shot! I had found my footing,” she said.

A woman smiling

Cole Brauer shared her race reports on her Instagram account, earning her nearly half a million followers. Credit: Cole Brauer – First Light @colebraueroceanracing/Globe Solo Challenge

Her co-skipper, Cat Chimney recommended that she sign up for the Global Solo Challenge, a solo, non-stop race around the world via the three Great Capes, which started from A Coruña in August 2023

This would then give Cole Brauer and her team four years to prepare for the 2028 Vendee Globe. She has previously tried for selection for The Ocean Race but was told that at 5ft 2in, she was too short.

But her goal was also to show “that this very male-dominated sport and community CAN become more open and less “traditional.”

Ahead of the Global Solo Challenge, she said: “I will be fighting against the constant sexual, verbal, and physical harassment for not just myself but for the corinthian and professional women sailors in this sport. As professional sailors, we have been fighting for many years for equal pay (we are paid significantly less than a man in the same position), we are harassed by teammates, owners, clients, race organisers, and many others in this community. Just as well as this community has built me up it has broken me and my fellow female teammates down. I am doing this race for them. Please follow, this is an organisation that is changing the world of sailing as we know it. It is giving people an opportunity to report harassment to listening ears in the sailing community.”

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Cole Brauer, who is from Boothbay, Maine, started the race on 29 October 2023, one of 16 starters.

She quickly made her way towards the front of the fleet passing into the southern Indian Ocean in December.

She always pushed hard, heading south to make the most of strong winds towards the Cape of Good Hope, although First Light was knocked down, which laid the boat at 90° and left Cole with several bruised ribs.

By Christmas Day, she had passed Cape Leeuwin.

By then, Philippe Delamere aboard his Actual 46, Mowgli was already in the Southern Ocean.

Throughout the race, she posted the highs and lows of sailing via her Instagram page @colebraueroceanracing, winning over 450,000 fans for her honest and enthusiastic race reports.

Sailor Cole Brauer on her boat after rounding Cape Horn

Rounding Cape Horn. Credit: Cole Brauer – First Light @colebraueroceanracing/Globe Solo Challenge

Cole Brauer rounded Cape Horn at 12.30UTC on 26 January.

Her approach to the landmark was cautious, as she was between two low-pressure systems; her instinct and skill paid off as she managed to avoid the worst of the strong winds.

By mid-February, Cole had found the trade winds and had reduced the gap between First Light and Mowgli, although the Frenchman’s lead meant he was likely to take the win, which he did on 24 February.

Cole Brauer crossed the line 11 days and 19 hours after Philippe Delamere.

Cole Brauer’s corrected elapsed time is 130 days, 2 hours, 45 minutes, and 38 seconds. Philippe Delamere’s corrected elapsed time is 147 days, 1 hour, 3 minutes, and 37 seconds.

A boat sailing in rough seas

Cole Braucer sailed the Class 40, First Light during the race. The yacht used to be owned by Michael Hennessy, when it was known as Dragon. Credit: Cole Brauer – First Light @colebraueroceanracing/Globe Solo Challenge

Of the 16 skippers who crossed the start line, just seven remain in the race.

The Global Solo Challenge was always billed as a race like no other, allowing skippers of 34ft boats to race fairly against 55ft yachts, with the boats grouped by performance characteristics before setting off in staggered departures over an 11-week period, with the fastest boats trying to catch the slower boats. The first yacht to cross the finish line wins.

All boats entered into the Global Solo Challenge had to pass minimum stability criteria, including adequate watertight bulkheads.

As well as a 2,000-mile solo qualifying passage on the boat entered in the race, the skippers also had to complete a World Sailing/ISAF Approved Offshore Personal Survival Training course.

The route was to keep all of the three Great Capes: Good Hope, Leeuwin and Cape Horn to port and the ice limit to starboard.

The next Globe Solo Challenge will be taking place in 2027, with the first boats leaving A Coruña on 28 August 2027.

Enjoy reading Cole Brauer is the first American woman to complete a solo, non-stop circumnavigation via the three Great Capes?

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