Jasmine Harrison: Rowing Her Way Into New World Records


Kailani Yamashiro , Staff Writer

21-year-old Jasmine Harrison is now the youngest female solo rower to complete in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge. This journey was a long one stretching over 70 days, 3 hours, and 48 minutes. Not only is it known as the world’s toughest row, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience where the rower is one with the water. 

The Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge is a 3000-mile journey starting at San Sebastian in La Gomera, Canary Islands, Spain to Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbor, Antigua and Barbuda. The challenge is not for the faint of heart as the physical and mental obstacles one endures can forever impact one’s life. On this journey, rowers encounter salt sores, physical pains, and sleep deprivation.

“There’s nothing like it, actually getting away from everything—social media, bad news, from literally everything,” said Harrison when describing her adventure. 

Harrison happened to be in Antigua at the end of the challenge in 2018, but seeing the rowers cross the finish line wasn’t the only thing that pulled her in. She also talked to an acquaintance who had just completed the challenge, and he shared the wonders of it with her.

It took Harrison a while to wrap her head around the idea, but she knew she wanted to participate in it. She also hoped that by participating, more young girls would be motivated to step out of their comfort zone. At that point, she asked herself, “Why not do it?”

“The more it scares you the more achievement you can gain,” Harrison said on her website.

Harrison was indeed frightened by the daunting task of the challenge, which is understandable given that rowers are isolated for two to three months in the ocean. During her adventure, her 550-pound boat tipped into the water, ultimately sending her in too. The second time she went in she injured her elbow but kept on going. Harrison also had a close encounter with a drilling ship at 4 a.m. To put it into perspective, she could’ve been crushed by the ship, and they wouldn’t even have noticed. 

The challenge and rowing, in general, has been a male-dominated sport.

“When I started, women in exploration was something that was a little frowned on,” said Tori Murden McClure, who in 1999 took the title of being the first American to row the Atlantic solo.

Despite the obstacles she faced along the way, Harrison encountered many different animals including fish, sea turtles, marlins, dolphins, whales, and even a little crab who joined her on her boat. 

“Rowing is a brutally honest experience when you step off the boat when you lie in a bed for that first night back, you know with absolute honesty who you are,” Couch, a safety officer, said.

Harrison donated her winnings to ShelterBox, a charity that aids people who have been affected by natural disasters and the Blue Marine Foundation, which is dedicated to restoring the ocean to health.

After completing the challenge, Harrison enjoyed her first meal, a burger, and fries along with a nice cold drink.

“I may row again. But actually I’d like to give that opportunity to other people, inspire them to do it. Right now, I’m just excited to see what the rest of my life will be,” said Harrison.


Photo courtesy of NYTIMES.COM