Michelle Lee is a long way from her Kellyville home and is about to face the world’s
toughest rowing challenge.
On December 12 the Hills massage therapist will be climbing aboard her purpose built boat
to row 5000 km (3000 nautical miles) in the Atlantic Ocean as part of The Talisker Whisky
She will be one of 88 rowers and the first Australian female to row solo on any Ocean.
What makes it even more extraordinary is that up until two years ago she had never rowed.
In March last year she broke the indoor rowing World Record for the Million Metre
Challenge as part of her training for her solo Atlantic row.
The inspiration to stretch herself came from reading a book called Rowing the Atlantic by
“It’s about the ability to triumph over adversity,” said Michelle. “I could not stop thinking
about the book and I thought I will not have peace until I get this out of my system”.
She has been methodical about how she has approached the task. A non-rower, she tracked down the only Australian to have completed the challenge, Andrew Abrahams who rowed the 2013 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge .
He has become her mentor and built her specially designed boat, RV Australian Maid, after
initially trying to dissuade her from the doing gruelling the challenge.
He then told her to find a world record to break so she took on the Million Metre Challenge
in March last year, and created a new World record by completing the challenge in five days, 21 hours and 34 minutes … shaving one day, 14 hours and 17 minutes off the world record set in 2014 by German Olympic rower Anke Molkenthin.
Michelle’s plan was 166kms for 14 hours a day, six days in a row. On the last day she
decided row for 19 hours, smashing the World Record.
The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge will have her rowing in stormy seas, facing 9m high
waves while suffering sleep deprivation, blisters, isolation and capsizing in rough seas.
But the Challenge is something she is very much looking forward to: “I can’t wait to see what I am made of”.
Rowers have 90 days to row the 4,700km from the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain to
Antigua in the West Indies.
Michelle has her heart set on doing it in 55 days.
The 46-year-old’s motto in life is: “Start thinking you can and you will.”
And while she rows through Christmas and the New Year she will be raising money for The
Sanctuary_ The Hills Women’s Shelter.