Sailor Cole Brauer makes history as the first American woman to race solo around the world

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Aboard her 40-foot racing boat First Light, 29-year-old Cole Brauer conscionable became nan first American female to race nonstop around nan world by herself.

The New York native pulled into A Coruña, Spain, on Thursday aft a treacherous 30,000-mile journey that took 130 days.

She thanked a cheering crowd of family and fans who had been waiting for her on-shore.

“This is really cool and truthful overwhelming successful each consciousness of nan word,” she exclaimed, earlier drinking champagne from her trophy.

The 5-foot-2 powerhouse placed second retired of 16 avid sailors who competed successful nan Global Solo Challenge, a solo circumnavigation title that started successful A Coruña pinch participants from 10 countries. The first-of-its-kind event allowed a wide scope of boats to set disconnected successful successive departures based connected capacity characteristics. Brauer started connected Oct. 29, sailing down nan westbound seashore of Africa, complete to Australia, and astir nan extremity of South America earlier returning to Spain.

Brauer is the only female and the youngest competitor successful nan event — thing she hopes young girls successful and retired of nan athletics tin tie inspiration from.

“It would beryllium astonishing if location was conscionable 1 woman that saw maine and said, ‘Oh, I tin do that too,’” Brauer said of her history-making sail.

It’s a grueling race, and much than half of nan competitors person dropped retired truthful far. One struck thing that caused his vessel to flood, and different sailor had to wantonness his vessel aft a mast collapsed and a terrible large wind was moving in.

The four-month travel is fraught pinch danger, including navigating nan 3 “Great Capes” of Africa, Australia and South America. Rounding South America’s Cape Horn, wherever nan Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet, is often likened to climbing Mount Everest because of its cleanable large wind of hazards — a crisp emergence successful nan water level and whipping westerly winds push up monolithic waves. Combined pinch nan frigid waters and stray icebergs, nan area is known arsenic a graveyard for ships, according to NASA. Brauer said she was “so unbelievably stoked” erstwhile she sailed past Cape Horn successful January.

Marco Nannini, organizer of nan Global Solo Challenge, said the comparison to scaling Mt. Everest doesn’t seizure nan trouble of nan race. Sailing solo intends not conscionable being a skipper but a task head — steering nan boat, fixing equipment, knowing nan upwind and maintaining one’s beingness health.

Nannini cited nan comparatively minuscule number of group who sailed astir nan world solo — 186, according to nan International Association of Cape Horners — arsenic grounds of nan challenges that competitors face. More than 6,000 group person climbed Mount Everest, according to High Adventure Expeditions.

Brauer stared down 30-foot waves that had capable unit to propulsion her crossed nan boat. In a scare caught connected camera, she severely injured her rib near nan halfway constituent of nan event. At different point, her squad successful nan U.S. directed Brauer to insert an IV into her ain arm due to dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea.

She was capable to enactment successful changeless connection with members of her team, most of whom are based in New England, and support herself entertained pinch Netflix and video calls pinch family through Starlink satellites. That’s besides really Brauer was capable to usage Zoom to link pinch NBC News for an interview, while she was sailing astir 1,000 miles westbound of nan Canary Islands.

While Brauer was technically unsocial on First Light, she had nan institution of 450,000 followers connected Instagram, where she frequently got candid astir life connected an unforgiving sea while reflecting connected her journey.

“It each makes it worthy it erstwhile you travel retired here, you beryllium connected nan bow, and you spot really beautiful it is,” she said successful an Instagram video, earlier panning nan camera to uncover nan twinkling sunrise.

Brauer grew up connected Long Island but didn’t study to sail until she went to college successful Hawaii. She traded successful her extremity of becoming a expert for life connected nan water. But she quickly learned making a profession arsenic a sailor is highly difficult, pinch master racers often hesitant to invited a 100-pound young female connected their team.

Even erstwhile she was trying to find sponsors for nan Global Solo Challenge, she said a batch of group “wouldn’t touch her pinch a 10-foot pole” because they saw her arsenic a “liability.”

Brauer’s connection to nan skeptics and naysayers? “Watch me.”

“I push truthful overmuch harder erstwhile someone’s like, ‘No, you can’t do that,’ aliases ‘You’re excessively small,’” Brauer explained.

“The biggest plus is your intelligence strength, not nan beingness one,” Nannini said. “Cole is showing everyone that.”

Brauer hopes to proceed competing professionally and is already eyeing different around-the-world competition, but not earlier she gets her hands connected a croissant and cappuccino.

“My rima is watering conscionable reasoning astir that.”

Emilie Ikeda

Emilie Ikeda is an NBC News correspondent.