Women’s rowing team pulls attention to massive garbage patch in Pacific

Eliza Dawson trains to row across the Pacific Ocean as a part of a four-woman team. (Photo courtesy Eliza Dawson)

Eliza Dawson, a former Husky rowing crewmember, will row across the Pacific Ocean this June from California to Hawaii, a distance of 2,400 miles, on an international team of four women.

They are the only all-women team in the Great Pacific Race in 2018, organized by New Ocean Wave, and aiming to break the world record for the fastest crossing by an all-female crew set in 2014 – 50 days, 8 hours, 14 minutes.

Two of her crewmembers are from the United Kingdom and one is from Brazil.

Dawson and her three crewmates from around the world will pass the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, GPGP, a gyre of plastic trash roughly four times the size of California.

“Each of us is working in our local communities to tackle issues threatening our planet and future,” the team wrote on their blog. “Together, we hope to have a global impact.”

They plan to record their journey and share photographs and videos on their blog.

The four women will alternate rowing in two-hour shifts with two hours of sleep for 40 to 50 days until they arrive.

They will row in the specially designed rowboat, “Ripple Effect,” which is about 24 feet long.

Dawson is fundraising on GoFundMe “to get a boat, necessary technology and safety equipment, take courses to prepare for the trip, and buy gear and food,” she wrote on the page.

“I think that what she is doing is admirable,” Yasmin Farooq, a head coach of women’s rowing crew at University of Washington, said in a text. “As a rower here at UW, she always had excellent preparation and she was incredibly tough.”

Dawson is preparing for her journey by rowing up to two hours in the morning and afternoon, then cycling and weightlifting for another two hours.

She has never met her crewmates in person but they coordinate their trip via Skype.

Dawson, 22, studied atmospheric science at University of Washington with a focus on climate and will begin working on her Ph.D. this fall at Stanford University.

“I know she is going to do a great job of rising to this challenge and bringing awareness to an environmental concern that deserves attention,” Farooq said. “All of us will be pulling for her.”