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Meet the First Woman to Row Across Three Oceans, Alone

Meet the First Woman to Row Across Three Oceans, Alone

Roz Savage worked 14-hour days as a management consultant in London for 11 years before she completed a self-help exercise that would change her life. At 32, she wrote two versions of her obituary. One detailed her legacy if her life stayed the same, and the second reflected her life if she had lived it "in full." She realized the two didn't line up, and an awakening began. "For so much of my life, I wanted something else to make me happy," Savage said in her 2013 TED Talk. "When I did that obituary exercise, I realized I needed to create my future."

She quit her job, left her husband, and--"through a leap of logic"--decided to row across the Atlantic Ocean, alone. 

Savage had rowed briefly while at Oxford University, but never in the ocean. She chose that setting to increase awareness of the ocean's pollution. 

In 2005, she rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, 3000 miles from the Canary Islands to Antigua. For the majority of her journey, she updated her blog through a satellite phone. But 24 days before the end of her row, Savage experienced total solitude when the phone broke. "It was a crash course in personal development," Savage said at a breakfast Wednesday morning. 

Ultimately, the isolation didn't faze her. In 2008, she set off in the Pacific and became the first woman to row from California to Hawaii. She spent over three months at sea and listened to over 62 audiobooks, then completed two other journeys to finally arrive in Papua New Guinea. National Geographic named her an Adventurer of the Year in 2010, noting her tenacity and perseverence. 

"Being alone on the ocean makes you very aware that you're just another animal," Savage told National Geographic. "The ocean doesn't give you any privileges because you're human."

In 2011, Savage rowed her third ocean, the Indian. For five months, she saw no dry land or people. When she landed in Mauritius, she became the first woman to row solo across three oceans. 

Today, Savage travels the world speaking about her experience and campaigning for the environment. She's written two books on her journeys, "Rowing the Atlantic: Lessons Learned on the Open Ocean," and "Stop Drifting, Start Rowing: One Woman's Search for Happiness and Meaning Alone on the Pacific."

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