Certifiably bonkers, mad and marvellous are just three attributes ascribed to Sarah Outen and her ventures. All seem justified bearing in mind the 25-year-old sets off tomorrow on a solo 20,000-mile trip around the world using nothing more than a kayak, bicycle and rowing boat.
Having already become the first woman and the youngest rower to cross the Indian Ocean solo, Miss Outen has been described by the renowned explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes as “an adventurer and expeditioner second to none”.
Now she has set her sights on a unique and dangerous trip circumnavigating the globe alone, through three continents, 14 countries and two oceans. The mammoth journey is likely to take her two and half years, 11 months of it at sea.
“It’s stomach-churning stuff and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. I am full of adrenaline right now – 90 per cent excitement, 10 per cent nerves,” she said. “I am so proud to be flying the flag. It’s cool to be spreading the word that women do crazy expeditions too – there are a lot of beards in the field.”
Tomorrow she leaves from Tower Bridge on her London2London expedition, crossing over to France on her kayak Nelson before taking up her bike Hercules for the 7,800-mile trip to eastern Russia. Crossing over to Japan, she will then be the first woman to row solo 5,000 miles across the North Pacific in her small boat Gulliver. Cycling from Vancouver to New York, she will then row home across the North Atlantic.
“She will face dangers on a daily basis which only the hardiest could tolerate,” said Sir Ranulph, before summing up the trip as “definitely mad, definitely marvellous”.
The Oxford graduate will be providing an educational blog for schools along her way as well as raising money for a variety of causes from breast cancer awareness to WaterAid.
Miss Outen’s first record breaking venture, rowing solo across the Indian Ocean in 2009, led to comedienne Dawn French describing her as “certifiably bonkers”. The solo challenge was prompted by her father Derek’s death after a lifelong battle against rheumatoid arthritis.
“That was the way I got through the grief,” she said: “He had such courage and strength just to get through the days. He is a big inspiration.”
She continued: “On my Indian Ocean row there were times when I felt physically awful. I was hallucinating and more tired than I’ve ever been in my life. Capsizing within sight of Mauritius, with the boat rolling and rolling and wondering if I’d die was a low point last time. But I can’t wait to get out on the sea again.”