Cole Brauer stands on deck in a short pink dress, pink high heels in her hand, beanie on her head and dances. Then a cut, it’s night and she’s waving an inflated plastic palm. It’s her New Year’s Eve reel on her Instagram account. The woman has a sense of humor!
From classic long keelers to newer racers, racing yachts such as the Class 40, Open 50 and Open 60 are also permitted. The 26,000 nautical mile regatta began in August 2023 with the smaller and slower boats. The last ones left in November.
On October 29, Cole Brauer started on a Class 40 together with six other boats in A Coruña. She has been sailing her 2008 Owen Clarke Class 40, “First Light,” for eight years. Brauer initially wanted to take part in the Transat Jacques Vabre, but her boat would not have been fast enough for a good placing due to its older design. So she decided to take part in the Global Solo Challenge. The US-American from Long Island, New York, is the only woman in this race. She is also the youngest of the 16 skippers – and at just 5’2″ and 98lbs, she is also the smallest and lightest participant.
But it wasn’t always fun during the race. When the autopilot failed at the end of November, she had to steer in a storm and broke a rib. For days, she had to sail herself in great pain until she was able to repair the autopilot.
On January 26, Cole Brauer reached Cape Horn in second place. She expects to reach the finish line at the beginning of March. The second-placed boat among all boats is currently in the South Atlantic and still has around 5,000 nautical miles to go to the finish. Ahead of her is the French skipper Philippe Delamare on Mowgli, which has only around 2,800 nautical miles to go. 1,400 nautical miles behind her, Brauer’s compatriot Ronnie Simpson has just rounded the Cape.
Her big goal is the Vendée Globe 2028
Cole Brauer does not come from a family of sailors, nor has she had a classic sailing career. She learned to sail in the Pacific when she went to Hawaii to study. After graduating, she moved to Maine and began delivering boats. Finally, she became boat captain of the First Light and delivered the boat to regattas and helped with maintenance, so that she got to know its strengths and weaknesses.
After the boat was sold, the new private owners offered her the chance to sail it on the Bermuda 1 2 (from Newport to Bermuda). The regatta is first sailed solo, then doublehanded. Cole and her co-skipper Cat Chimney were the first female winners in the history of the race. For Cole Brauer, this was a turning point in her career.
The then 24-year-old already knew in 2018 that she wanted to sail around the world – as part of a team in the Volvo Ocean Race. Today, her big goal is the Vendée Globe 2028, just as it is for Sanni Beucke. When Brauer reads Ellen MacArthur’s book “Taking on the World”, she knows that she wants to sail around the world solo. She loves sailing solo.
Chatting at Point Nemo
Brauer has already built up a strong country team to support her in the current race. The team and her family follow her closely via the Starlink satellite internet service. This allows her to make phone calls, chat with friends via Facetime and even watch streamed movies. The strange thing is that you still live the same life, just from a distance, she thinks.
Cole Brauer was also a mentee at The Magenta Project (as is currently her media representative Lydia Mullan). She is committed to making the male-dominated sport of sailing more open and less “traditional”. “As professional female sailors, we have been fighting for equal pay and against harassment for many years.” In an interview with the race organizers, she says: “As good as this community has built me up, it has slowed me and my female teammates down. I’m doing this race for them!”