The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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March 15, 2010

ROW NO MORE

Katie Spotz finishes cross-Atlantic solo journey

A plate of fresh watermelon waited on a pier in Georgetown, Guyana, the juice-laden fruit the ultimate treat after the ultimate journey.

On Sunday, Katie Spotz, known as “the GaREAT Girl,” became the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean and the first American to make the trip.

Spotz, 22, of Mentor, rowed nearly 3,000 miles from Dakar, Senegal, to Georgetown in two months. Her “row for water” journey was used to raise money and awareness for the Blue Planet Run Foundation, a nonprofit whose goal is to bring clean drinking water to 1 billion people worldwide.

Spotz raised $84,510 for the cause.

Eating dried fruit, dehydrated meals and candy bars and listening to music and language learning podcasts, Spotz wrote about her adventures aboard her 19-foot row boat in a daily web log (blog) at www.rowforwater.com.

The record for the youngest rower to cross an ocean solo was set by Oliver Hicks, a British man who was 23, when he traveled from New Jersey to England in 2005, according to Kenneth Crutchlow, the London-based executive director of the Ocean Rowing Society. He said his group will have to certify Spotz's journey but she appears to have broken the record.

Spotz rowed for as many as 10 hours a day with breaks for naps, navigation and boat maintenance. At night, she would drift aboard the specially designed ocean row boat, which had equipment including solar panels for power, a satellite phone and a laptop computer.

Spotzs’ journey was sponsored by the Geneva area Recreational Educational Athletic Trust (GaREAT).

Troubles caught up with Spotz in the final days of her trip, as she decided on a destination change from Cayenne, French Guiana; Georgetown because of weather conditions - a difference of nearly 400 extra miles. She also noted that she did not want any assistance from the coast guard as she made her approach to the pier, as she wanted her entire journey to be “solo.”

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