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Tragedy, and an Attempt at Rowing Triumph on the Pacific

Angela Madsen, a 60-year-old paraplegic who was attempting to become the oldest woman to row alone from California to Hawaii, was found dead floating next to her boat approximately 1,000 miles from Hawaii, according to the New York Post.

“Madsen, a US Marine veteran, set sail in a 20-foot rowboat in April from Marina del Rey, California, to head to Honolulu,” the Post reported. “She had been hoping to become the first paraplegic, openly gay athlete and oldest woman to achieve the feat.”

That’s Angela Madsen (left) and Tara Remington, who rowed from California to Hawaii in 2014. Madsen was attempting the same route by herself when tragedy struck.
© 2020 Debra Moeller

A private Facebook group said that Madsen’s body was recovered by a German cargo ship. “Her family and film crew had requested to recover her vessel [and] belongings, but due to hard seas, the vessel was left adrift,” the Facebook group said, adding that onboard Madsen’s boat there are months of footage that had been shot for a documentary.

“We have one ship in Hawaii on standby for next week but want to see if there are options that might get there sooner. Are there any vessels nearby that might be able to help?” the group asked. The documentary was being produced by filmmaker Soraya Simi; the Facebook group asked that any mariners who may potentially be in a position to help recover Madsen’s rowboat contact Simi directly.

Meanwhile, San Francisco-based sailor and rower extraordinaire Lia Ditton departed the Bay Area for Hawaii last week to make her own record-setting attempt.

Lia Ditton apparently did an Instagram post before her departure last Wednesday.
© 2020 Lia Ditton

Ditton had been training in San Francisco Bay for years, and had her sights on rowing from Japan to San Francisco, but decided to go for Hawaii “for a variety of reasons,” she told us a few months ago.

Given the tragedy that befell Angela Madsen, the stakes are no less extreme along Ditton’s “shorter” rowing route. We wish her luck, success and safety. You can follow her progress here.

Ditton is slowly making her way south and west. She hopes to be in Hawaii in less than 99 days.
© 2020
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