Sleeping While Rowing in the Great Pacific Race

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Pictured back to front: Adrienne Smith, Libby Costello, Brooke Downes, and Sophia Denison-Johnston

Over 600 people have been to space, about 4,000 have climbed Mount Everest, but only 19 successful teams have completed the Great Pacific Race. On June 21st four women, part of the rowing team Latitude 35, embarked on this 2,400 nautical mile rowing expedition with the expectation of breaking records and completing a demanding journey.

To follow along on this epic journey on their Instagram. Brooke Downes, one of the rowers, has been going viral on her TikTok account as she tracks and documents the team’s experience. If you want to track where the team is, you can visit the LAT35 Team Tracker. 

Their plan is to break the current women’s world record held by team Ocean Sheroes, who rowed from San Francisco to Hawaii in 35 days 12 hours and 22 minutes in 2021, becoming the fastest women to ever row the Pacific Ocean. The Ocean Sheroes took 14 days off the women’s world record, which was 50 days. Competing in the Great Pacific Race they came second to fellow world record-holders, an all male team from Latitude 35The men’s team finished in 30 days, 7 hours and 30 minutes. 

Team Latitude 35 is currently on track to beat the women’s world record. They are on day 17, hoping to beat the 35 day record. They hope to land at Waikiki Yacht Club in Hawaii around July 25th. 

Libby Costello, 25, Sophia Denison-Johnston, 26, Brooke Downes, 25, and Adrienne Smith, 42, make up Team Latitude 35. This is their first time rowing across an ocean. 

Libby, Sophia, and Brooke were all on collegiate rowing teams, while Adrienne has been doing endurance sports for over 14 years. Adrienne was the last woman to join the group and the only member who wasn’t a rower beforehand. They have been training as a team since late last year. 

Their strategy is to row in pairs and in two hour shifts. That means two women will row for two hours while two women are off. They plan to complete this two-on, two-off strategy for the entirety of their expedition. 

Sleepopolis was able to talk to Adrienne Smith about their experience and what caught our interest most, of course, was how do they get enough sleep? 

Libby is all ready for some sleep inside one of the cabins.

There are two cabins where the crew sleeps located at the stern and bow of the boat. The stern cabin has been more challenging, since it is smaller. Brooke Downes, who is 5-11, has had to sleep diagonally if she’s on her back, otherwise she curls up to be able to fit in the cabin.

While their physical preparation included swim training, rigorous hikes, tying knots in ice cold water, and 20 plus hour rowing trips, their sleep preparation looked a bit different. 

Adrienne has a four year old daughter, leaving her a little prepared for the sleeping challenges she might face. She said, “I had a kid before so I know all about sleep deprivation.” Libby prepared by practicing sleeping on her back a few weeks before the launch to get ready for the small sleeping cabins. 

It took their bodies a couple days to adjust, but Adrienne said, “The biggest surprise is that we are all sleeping great and having wild dreams. At first, we all dove into the cabins after our shifts and slept as much as possible. The first night was rough – I think all of us fell asleep while rowing.” 

While rowing this is the crew’s beautiful view.

They aren’t able to sleep the entirety of the two hours they have off. During that time they have all kinds of other things to do like change out of their wet weather gear, cook their meals, eat their meals, ensure everything is stowed away, look at navigation, communicate with the land crew, and then they get to sleep. Adrienne said they all make it a point to sleep for at least 45 minute to an hour during their breaks.

Something that has helped them sleep is the lack of artificial light. While this may seem obvious, this has really made a difference
in the crew’s sleep: “We only use our phones for pictures and music as well as to connect with you. Being outside helps set the body up for a successful sleep – be it a day nap or night nap.”

An eye mask has been game changing for both Brooke and Adrienne who are using them. Libby creates her own by putting a ball cap over her eyes. Ear plugs have been helpful during the day to drown out the deck party. Adrienne also brought one of her daughter’s stuffed bunnies. She said, “It’s the best pillow; Libby uses it too.” 

You can read our full conversation with Adrienne here:

Sleepopolis messaged with Adrienne and we were able to get into great detail about the team’s daily sleep routine and habits, what’s worked, what hasn’t.

Q: What preparation did you do for your sleeping schedule changes before leaving? 

A: I didn’t prepare at all – I had a kid before so I know all about sleep deprivation. Libby practiced sleeping on her back for a few weeks before we launched.  

Q: What has been the most difficult part of sleeping on the boat? 

A: The most challenging has been for the ladies in the stern cabin as it’s smaller. Brooke is super tall so she has to sleep diagonal if on her back, but otherwise she curls up. (Watch the video below to see the size of the cabin.)

@brookedownes04 ~Just boat things~ we love snuggling with teammates in our super spacious cabins 💁🏻‍♀️ #oceanrowing #PassTheBIC #ComeDanceWithMe #rowingtiktok #pacificocean #santabarbara #greatpacificrace #gpr #lat35 #girlswhorow #oceancrossing #ocean #rowing #giari ♬ original sound – jaycehardy


Q: What are your sleeping essentials? 

A: Eye pillow is a game changer. Brooke and I have one. Libby puts a ball cap over her eyes. I brought one of my daughter’s stuffed bunnies. It’s the best pillow – Libby uses it too. I use ear plugs during the day to drown out the deck party.

Q:  What do you miss most about your bed at home? 

A: I miss the dryness upon waking. The first few minutes of getting up take some mental strength to not start a conversation about the icky damp feeling. We all agreed that once on the oars, it takes about five minutes to shift gears and fully wake up. The fresh air is incredible. 

Q: What’s the biggest surprise about sleeping on the boat?

A: Biggest surprise is that we are all sleeping great and having wild dreams. At first, we all dove into the cabins after our shifts and slept as much as possible. The first night was rough – I think all of us fell asleep while rowing. 

Q: How are you sleeping? How much have you been able to sleep? 

A: Sleep has been great for us all! I must say, we are all in good spirits. We make a point to sleep for 45 min to 1 hour during our shift breaks. We don’t have much artificial light. We only use our phones for pictures and music as well as to connect with you. Being outside helps set the body up for a successful sleep – be it a day nap or night nap.

 

*To follow along on this epic journey with them, visit their Instagram where they have been posting updates and some great content from their rowing expedition. Brooke has also been documenting parts of this process on her TikTok account.  If you want to track where the team is, visit the LAT35 Team Tracker. 

All images and videos were given to us from Latitude 35. 



Julia Medina

Julia Medina

Hi all, I’m Julia a Staff News Writer for Sleepopolis! From sleep news and education to the latest sleep trends, my goal is to keep you informed about what’s going on in the sleep world.

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