Meet The Massage Therapist About To Row Solo Across The Atlantic Ocean
On Christmas Day, as we tuck into our family lunches and crack open some bon bons, Michelle Lee will be about two weeks into a solo trek across the Atlantic Ocean.
"I’ve got my little Christmas hamper packed," Lee said, unfazed by her unusual festive setting.
"My little pudding and custard, a little champagne. I will sit back for a moment and acknowledge it’s Christmas, then I’ll get back on the oars.”
She'll stay on the oars for up to two months, as she heads towards the finishing line of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge -- one of the ocean's toughest rowing events.
Lee's journey starts Saturday as she leaves Sydney for the Canary Islands, where she and four other competitors will embark on solo expeditions to the Caribbean island of Antigua -- a distance of more than 5,000km.
If she achieves her goal, the 46-year-old will be Australia's first female to row solo across the Atlantic.
It's an impressive undertaking that's come from surprisingly humble beginnings.
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"It was a book called Rowing the Atlantic that inspired me to take on this challenge," Lee explained to 10 daily, referring to the book written by Roz Savage, who did the same race.
"Having read that book I then had to learn to row. So I built the boat and then launched it in July last year, which was the first time I ever put an oar in the water.”
Lee said she was at a point in her life where she was ready to sink her teeth into something -- something big.
While the race typically takes anywhere between two to three months to complete, the remedial massage therapist is aiming to set a record by finishing in 55 days.
To do that, she will have to cover more than 86km each day, rowing for between 14 to 16 hours.
Her vessel will be one of dozens to set off on December 12, comprising of her fellow solo rowers, and groups of pairs and fours.
She'll face 40 foot high seas, 35 knot winds, salt sores, blisters, mental fatigue, sea sickness, physical exhaustion, sharks and capsizing.
"Then of course on the boat we have a lot of electronics and electrical equipment, so system failures are a possibility," Lee added.
It's a long list of challenges for an even longer journey, but none of it seems to have Lee -- whom for this will mark the first time she's rowed in an open ocean -- scared.
"It might change when I’m at the start line but at the moment it’s just like, I just want to get there now. I'm so excited, I feel ready, I really do feel ready. I’ve done so much mental prep and there’s so much that you can’t do," she said.
"I’m not a rower, I’m not elite, I’m not an athlete, but you have to believe in yourself and just tackle that bull by the horns and do whatever it is that you wanted to do and don’t let fear hold you back.”
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