Credit Atlantic Campaigns-3393
Today Jasmine Harrison, a 21-year-old from North Yorkshire, set a new world record for the youngest female solo rower to row any ocean after completing the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Jasmine from team Rudderly Mad crossed the 3,000 mile Atlantic in 70 days, 3 hours and 48 minutes and raised over £11K for Shelterbox & Blue Marine Foundation.

Maintaining physical distance from others is something most people do on a regular basis these days. Yet, in this digitally connected world of ours, true isolation is something many of us will never really encounter.

Jasmine Harrison is one of those few who has not only experienced being alone, but actively sought out and trained for the chance to do it. World Rowing spoke with the native of Thirsk in North Yorkshire, Great Britain, who recently rowed into the record books as the youngest female to complete a solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.

The start

The pandemic ensured it would be a subdued affair compared with the usual wild celebration that launches the Talisker Whiskey’s Atlantic Challenge rowing race. There were still cheers of course, but the throngs of friends, family and supporters were smaller and the rowers wearier after days, weeks, months of COVID precautions during what should have been an exhilarating build up to one of the toughest contests in sport.

For Harrison, the rhythmic clunk-splash of oars and ocean replaced the fading cheers, then the coastline of La Gomera and then all traces of the Canary Islands – the start line for the Atlantic Challenge. The finish was at Antigua, almost 5,000 kilometres to the West. Harrison was alone.


It was in Antigua almost three years before when Harrison had first heard of the trans-Atlantic rowing race. “I met a few people and came down to watch the finish of this race,” she remembers. “I immediately thought, that sounds like something I want to do.”

“I was looking for something different,” Harrison adds, pointing to her penchant for wandering. She had been in the Caribbean, sailing and teaching kids’ swimming lessons.  “I wanted an escape; this was a target. I thought, I am going to regret it if I don’t do this.”

For all that, she didn’t sign up right away, travelling next to various places across Eastern Europe. “Something just wasn’t sitting right,” she says. “I thought, why am I not happy? I rang up a past rower and literally went back to my hostel and entered the race.

“Right, I thought, I can enjoy the rest of my travels now.”

Jasmine Harrison, a 21-year-old from North Yorkshire, set a new world record for the youngest female solo rower to row any ocean after completing the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Credit Atlantic Campaigns


“I am a dreamer,” says Harrison of the pandemic’s impact. “I was dreaming that things with COVID would be okay, that it would get back to normal, but they didn’t.”

The altered reality, so palpable to everyone at the Canary Islands’ start line had so much potential to sink Harrison’s spirits before she had taken a single stroke. Yet, here she was making progress nonetheless and more grateful than ever for the opportunity to be with herself.

“I felt so lucky to be out there,” says Harrison. “I would have been lucky anyway – how many people get to see the things I’ve seen?”

“People were worried about me, but I feel so much more fortunate than anybody else. I am looking at the world going by while everybody else is stuck at home looking at the same four walls. I don’t have to wear a mask out there, I don’t have to stand two metres apart from people, I am not in hospital. I feel unbelievably lucky.”

Fire in the sky

In a row measured not in minutes and metres, but nautical miles and degrees of longitude, Harrison travelled roughly one eighth the circumference of the globe. She saw the sun rise in the East and raced it into the West 70 times before making landfall in Antigua.

“There are moments so beautiful, I didn’t want to row,” says Harrison. “Watching the sun rise and set. Water so flat and calm that you can’t tell where the sky ends and the sea begins.

“The night. The stars. And one evening especially, the colour of the stars – pastel blue, pink, orange – and then the brightest moon and clouds of all different shapes. I’ll remember that night, that evening, that day. There was fire in the sky.”

A beautiful path

Harrison’s achievement made headlines around the world and struck a chord with at least one ocean rowing pioneer. “I am delighted that Jasmine Harrison finished her crossing with such success,” Tori Murden McClure told World Rowing.

As the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic – not to mention the first woman to ski solo to the South Pole – the current President of Spalding University (USA) knows about challenging herself. “It brings me joy to see women doing well in whatever endeavour they choose to pursue.”

With ocean-crossing behind her (for now at least), Harrison hopes that others will be inspired to challenge themselves the way she has.

“Challenging yourself is very important,” she says. “It’s the way we grow, how we evolve as humans. We don’t get anywhere without trying something new.”

As for what comes next, Harrison isn’t sure, but having only just completed the crossing, there is no rush. “I’m taking everything in. I feel like something will come along, as this came along. I do a lot of travelling and I am just going to keep on walking. When I find a path, I can stop and think, this is beautiful.”


Harrison’s dedicated page for more information about her campaign for the row here.
Talisker Whisky’s Atlantic Challenge here
American Oliver Crane is the youngest male rower to cross the Atlantic solo. Check out World Rowing’s interview with him following his achievement in 2018.