Cole Brauer is the first American woman to sail around the world singlehanded and non-stop.

On Thursday, March 7, 2024 at 07:23 Coordinated Universal Time, Long Island native Cole Brauer crossed the finish line off the coast of A Coruna, Spain to claim second place in the 2023-24 Global Solo Challenge.


Shortly before completing the inaugural Global Solo Challenge, Cole Brauer informed race organizers that she was deliberately slowing down to arrive, as her lovely grey Class40 would want, at First Light!   ©

In the years since Sir Robin Knox-Johnston became the first person to do so, in 1969, fewer than 200 people have sailed alone around the world by the three great capes, unassisted and without stopping. Posting an elapsed time of 130 days, 2 hours, 45 minutes and 38 seconds, Cole has earned a place in yachting history as the first American woman to accomplish that feat. Logging 27,759 miles with a VMG of 8.00, she also set a new Class40 around-the-world speed record with nearly half a million enthusiastic Instagram followers cheering her on.

At age 29, Cole was both the youngest skipper and the only female sailor in the 16-boat Global Solo Challenge fleet. “It hasn’t really hit me yet,” she enthused. “Everyone’s so excited, but for me it hasn’t really sunk in that I now hold these records. It just feels like I went for a little sail, and now I’m back.”


Although she’s the runner-up, Cole is the real champion.   © Teddy Weathersbee


Finishing second overall, Cole broke the record for a solo circumnavigation on a 40-foot boat by approximately one week.   ©

“The race was for me,” Cole continued. “I got to have this amazing experience, so I feel like the celebration at the finish is almost for everyone else who was involved with this. I already had the experience I went out there looking for, so this celebration is for the team and the supporters.”

Cole began having autopilot issues while heading east for Cape Horn, and a violent broach tossed her across the boat and injured her ribs. Despite concerns that she might have to pull into port, she was able to make repairs and press on with amazing tenacity.

The hydrogenerator aboard her Class40 First Light, which provides electricity for the boat’s instruments, autopilot, watermaker and Starlink system, started malfunctioning in the South Pacific. She was forced to ration power for the rest of the race.

Cole and first place finisher Philippe Delamare proudly display their International Association of Cape Horners burgees.   ©

“This monumental milestone is not just a physical triumph, but a testament to her courage in facing challenges head-on,” said Project Manager Brendon Scanlon. “As she sails the rough seas and navigates life’s complexities onboard, we celebrate the indomitable spirit that defines her remarkable journey.”

“Very few people get this opportunity and fewer still actually succeed when they do. It’s a small club of people who’ve accomplished this,” said James Tomlinson, one of the team’s photographers. “She might not have won the race, but in our eyes she’s the champion.”

Cole’s next goal is the 2028 Vendée Globe, and the best way to follow her is at colebraueroceanracing on Instagram. ■

Time to celebrate!   ©

Special thanks to Global Solo Challenge organizer Marco Nannini for assistance with this story.