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Interview with Sarah Outen


Sarah Dilys Outen is a British athlete and adventurer. She was the First Woman to row solo across the Indian Ocean – and the fourth ever to complete this crossing.

In October 2015, Sarah completed her four-and-a-half year journey circumnavigating the globe using only a kayak, bike and rowing boat.

She shares with us what her journeys have taught her (and why having a beard is not obligatory when setting out on a hard expedition…)

‘I was surprised that no woman had attempted to row the Indian Ocean before me’

It was 2009!’ The only way in which my ‘First’ is significant to me is in that slow march towards gender equality. It’s showing the media and the public that it’s not just “beards doing hard expeditions”. I thought it would be challenging and beautiful – and it was. It’s a privilege to be considered a ‘trailblazer’.

‘Within the adventure achievement field there’s a lot of ‘ willy waving’’

And I think as women we tend to be rather more modest. Modesty stands for a lot in approachability and interaction with others, showing that this is not just a man’s field. A woman’s patience and perseverance are definitely key in long expeditions. And their emotional awareness – for managing and dealing with oneself and also in interacting with others.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help’

…if it will get you through a challenge. When it gets tough, I also draw on my inner strength, my sense of humour and my skills and experience.  And my mind management skills!

‘Take pride in staying true to your values and carrying on’

I thank those that share my missions – team and sponsors, families and friends.  And I remind myself that without that support and belief it wouldn’t be possible.

‘Keep frustrations in perspective’

…and throw some positive attitude on them.  Sometimes that takes a bit of time – it is good to let frustration out if I need to.  I will learn from it and move on.  And laugh at it if I can.

‘Make the most of the good days ‘

This is still the key to my philosophy and it came from my father who died in 2006 and suffered rheumatoid arthritis for most of my life. My parents encouraged my brothers and me to make the most of opportunities and chase our dreams. My mother is probably still my biggest cheerleader.

‘If I could speak to my 10-year old self, I’d tell her ‘Failure is alright’

It won’t hurt you.  Do as much good and spread as much positive energy as you can.

‘To the women coming next  –  be bold, brave and curious’

Be unapologetic for who you are and what you stand for. Help spread the good energy and support others, women or otherwise.

Sarah Outen is the First Woman to row solo across the Indian Ocean

To find out more about First Woman, Sarah Outen, visit: www.sarahouten.com

Interview by Deborah Willimott

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