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This 29-Year-Old Is the First American Woman to Sail Around the World Solo and Nonstop

It took Cole Brauer a bit more than 80 days to work her way around the world, but the New York native has done it.

On Thursday, the 29-year-old sailor become the first American woman to circumnavigate the globe alone and nonstop, The Washington Post reported. Her voyage began on October 29, and after traversing some 30,000 miles, she returned back to the Spanish port city of A Coruña after 130 days.

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“Amazing finish!!!! So stoked!” Brauer wrote on Instagram. “Thank you to everyone that came together and made this process possible.”

Brauer’s trip, aboard her Class40 monohull First Light, was part of the Global Solo Challenge, in which she finished second. (More than half of the 16 entrants—all men besides Brauer, and all older than her—had to drop out before completing the challenge, the race organizer said.) Throughout the journey, she shared updates via social media, growing her following from fewer than 100,000 people to almost half a million, the Post noted. Over the four months, she traveled through the world’s three great capes—Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, Australia’s Cape Leeuwin, and South America’s Cape Horn—plus
Point Nemo, a part of the Pacific Ocean where the closest humans are usually those orbiting in the International Space Station.

In all, fewer than 200 people have done what Brauer just did. The first person to circumnavigate the globe without stopping was Brit Robin Knox-Johnston in 1969, according to International Association of Cape Horners data cited by The Washington Post. The first woman was Australian Kay Cottee in 1988. Brauer is now just the 18th woman to have accomplished the feat.

“I think that it takes a lot of strength to actually push and to strive into this industry, and I really want women to understand that it’s possible,” Brauer told NBC about the traditionally male-dominated field of sailing. “It would be amazing if there was just one other girl that saw me and said, ‘Oh, I can do that, too.’”

Given what she just accomplished, it’s a likely bet that more than just one other girl is looking at Brauer and wondering whether they might be the next one to set a sailing record. And Brauer herself might still have more to come.

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