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Published: Monday, 3/15/2010

Ohio rower finishes transatlantic trip, claims solo record

Ohioan Katie Spotz's trip across the Atlantic Ocean from West Africa to South America may have set a record. Ohioan Katie Spotz's trip across the Atlantic Ocean from West Africa to South America may have set a record.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana - A 22-year-old rower from Ohio completed a solo journey across the Atlantic Ocean yesterday, touching a pier in the waters off Guyana to claim a record as the youngest person to accomplish such a crossing.

Katie Spotz, who spent more than two months alone at sea, hugged her father and brother as a crowd of 200 people cheered her arrival in this South American capital.

"The hardest part was just the solo part," said Ms. Spotz, who said she struggled with boredom and had trouble sleeping inside the cramped, 19-foot row boat.

The athlete from Mentor, Ohio, set out from Dakar, Senegal, on Jan. 3 and endured rough seas during the 2,817-mile crossing.

She traveled without any support boat.

She rowed to raise money and awareness for the Blue Planet Run Foundation, a nonprofit whose goal is to bring clean drinking water to the estimated 1 billion people worldwide.

The record for the youngest rower to cross an ocean solo was set by Oliver Hicks, a British man who was 23 when he rowed from New Jersey to England in 2005, according to Kenneth Crutchlow, the London-based executive director of the Ocean Rowing Society.

Ms. Spotz rowed for as many as 10 hours a day, stopping for naps, navigation, and maintenance.

At night, she would drift aboard the specially designed ocean row boat, which had equipment including solar panels for power, a satellite phone, and a laptop computer.

She had little fresh food aside from sprouts grown aboard the boat.

"I would cook three dehydrated meals a day on a little stove," she said as she devoured a melon at the dock in Georgetown. "At night, I would update my Facebook and e-mails. There is not much else to do on a row boat."

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