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Esc Hero #10: ‘I decided I would row solo across the Indian Ocean’

1. Who are you and what are you currently doing?

My name is Sarah Outen.  I am freelancing as a motivational speaker and writer, focusing on my recent solo row across the Indian Ocean.  It took one failed attempt and a 4,000 mile 124 day voyage to row from Australia to Mauritius, just me in my 6m boat. Meanwhile, I have lots of ideas about what happens next – it’s likely to feature some adventures on oceans of different kinds, while also raising awareness about some issues really important to me. Sorry, I can’t give too much away at the moment ;)

2. What did you do before this?

I was studying at Oxford in 2006 when I decided I would row solo across the Indian Ocean. In between graduating in 2007 and rowing in 2009 I worked at a school, teaching biology and coaching sports, and also put my project together. So I haven’t escaped the city so much as avoided it’s fangs completely.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DRvHE52KrE

IF YOU CAN’T SEE THIS VIDEO AT WORK — SORRY — SOME INTRANETS FILTER THEM OUT… :-(

3. How long have you dreamt of doing what you are doing now?

As a child I lived off adventure books, but never really thought that I would one day be making a living out of it. My ocean row took me 3 years to put together.

4. What was your Moment of Truth when you realised that you would turn the dream into a reality?

My Dad died very suddenly in 2006 – he was only 53.  I decided then that my ideas about taking a team across the Indian Ocean would in fact turn into my tribute to him, and to do this I would go solo and raise lots of money for arthritis charities. He had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for 20 years.

I landed into Mauritius on 3rd August 2009, so that’s when I knew I had made it happen, even if it was all very surreal at that point.

Sarah

5. From a practical perspective, how did you plan for it?

From taking the idea to making it across the ocean took a lot of planning, learning and fundraising. It was an adventure in itself. I think if you can put a big project together, you will make it to the other side – so many projects fail before the start. So it’s important never to lose sight of the goal and never, never give up.

6. How did you fund it?

The recession wasn’t a good time for sponsorship finding. That said, I nailed enough money and kit to go alongside my own savings and earnings and make it happen. You’ve got to be creative and very persistent if you want to get other people on board financially with your projects. I’m currently earning money through lecturing, though I still have boat debt after the ocean.

7. What was the hardest thing about making this happen?

Getting to Australia was huge. I had to find nearly £100K in money and kit, build a boat, get trained, ramp up a media presence, organize logistics, find a team etc etc. Convincing people to sponsor me for a project which was years away, as a young graduate with no real previous experience and on an ocean which had seen six out of nine attempts fail was really tricky.

Sarah Teddy8. What has been the best thing about having made this happen?

Apart from the amazing experiences out on the ocean, it has opened various doors and brought me into contact with some really interesting people. For me, the journey was more than just chasing records – I survived three years since my Dad died and we have raised £30,000 for charities, so that is really special too.

9. What advice would you give to other people who want to do something similar?

Never lose sight of the dream – you will get there if you want it badly enough and are willing to put everything you have into it, mind, body and soul.

‘Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has courage to lose sight of the shore’ Gide

Sarah3

10. What resources have you found really useful?

RGS Explore is a great one; the National Boatshows (London and Southampton) and for an ocean rower then The Association of Ocean Rowers and The Ocean Rowing Society are useful, too.

The best resources are people – talk to as many folks with experience as you possibly can.

11. What else?

People always want to know about what I ate on the ocean: 500 bars of chocolate, a lot of porridge and a lot of that horrid dehydrated mushy food.

If you would like a little taste of the ocean and would be happy to encourage your school, club or business to get me in for a talk, then please send them my way hello@sarahouten.co.uk. Meanwhile, head to my website for more tales of the sea and my next project soon to be announced. www.sarahouten.co.uk