Former East Pier resident Lia Ditton, who is rowing solo from San Francisco Bay to Hawaii, was plunged headfirst into the ocean on her 19th day at sea. As she was rowing, a rogue wave capsized her 21-foot boat, throwing her overboard. While she struggled to right her craft and crawl back aboard, Lia recalled the recent death of fellow rower Angela Madsen during her own attempt on the same route earlier this year.
Here’s how Lia tells the story in her blog:
The boat was upside down. The boat was not self-righting. I recalled an instance in the Atlantic rowing race, where Chris Martin had rolled his boat back over like a dinghy. Without hesitation I began to roll the boat. The boat began to roll over and I remember looking at the hull and seeing only a few barnacles and being pleased by that. I don’t remember how I initiated the roll or how much force I used, but the muscles in my neck, arms and shoulders are very sore now. As the boat rolled I felt frightened because there was nothing to hang onto on the underside of the hull.
The boat came back upright fast, knocking me back under water. “Find the safety line,” barked the voice in my head. I fumbled again and found the safety line. I grabbed the side deck to pull myself up but there was no strength left in my arms and in that moment I was sure that was why Angela died. “NO LIA!” I tried again and knowing there was no third try, used sheer will and all the energy left in my body to get myself back onboard.
With her goal of challenging the all-time record of 52 days looking very unlikely, Lia is now attempting to break Roz Savage’s 2008 journey of 99 days to Hawaii. She has 50 days of food left and her land-based team is assisting with weather routing, medical support and safety, as well as keeping friends and supporters updated on her progress. This row, which Lia calls the half marathon, is viewed by Lia as training. Her main target is to row 5,500 miles from Japan to San Francisco in spring 2021, bidding to succeed where 19 other attempts have failed.