Updated: Pacific Rower Angela Madsen Found Dead

Angela Madsen has died during her attempt to row alone across the Pacific Ocean from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Her wife, Debra, confirmed the sad news in a Facebook post this evening.

Angela Madsen during her previous row to Hawaii with Tara Remington. Photo: PressTelegram


Madsen had been at sea for 60 days and covered just over 2,000km of her journey. She was regularly checking in by satphone with Debra and also with filmmakers documenting her row. On the morning of June 21, she told them she needed to go into the water to make repairs to the hardware that deployed the para-anchor from the bow.

After not hearing from her for several hours, Debra began to worry. “When I checked her main inbox, she had not returned any messages,” said Debra. “[From] the tracking, it did not appear that she was rowing the boat, but rather that it was drifting.  She was about as far from any land as she could get, and communication can be a challenge; I was hopeful but still had a feeling of heaviness in my chest.”

Search and rescue was contacted, and the U.S. Coast Guard sent a plane on a flyover that night, and the German-registered cargo ship Polynesia diverted to check on Madsen. The plane spotted Madsen’s boat RowofLife, and her body in the water, still tethered to it. She was recovered from the ocean by the Polynesia, which arrived on site late Monday night and confirmed that she had passed away.

Madsen and Brown winning gold at the World Championships in 2006. Photo: row2k


Madsen was a three-time Paralympian, a former Marine and a six-time Guinness world record holder for ocean rowing. She was aiming to be the first paraplegic, first openly gay athlete and oldest woman to row the Pacific Ocean. In a statement released on the RowofLife website, Debra said, “Angela was a warrior, as fierce as they come.  A life forged by unbelievable hardship, she overcame it all…She knew the risks better than any of us and was willing to take those risks because being at sea made her happier than anything else. She told us time and again that if she died trying, that is how she wanted to go.”

“Angela is now en route to Tahiti without me,” said Debra.

Soraya Simi, the filmmaker working on a documentary about Madsen, posted further details on Instagram: