First American Woman to Sail Solo, Nonstop Around the World to Speak at RWU on May 15

Cole Brauer will share her historic journey in the Global Solo Challenge and experiences as a collegiate and professional sailor

By Mel Thibeault
Cole Brauer with her second-place trophy
Cole Brauer made history on March 7, 2024, as the first American woman to race solo nonstop around the world. Image Credit: Alvaro Sanchis

BRISTOL, R.I. – After sailing 30,000 miles and spending 130 days alone at sea, Cole Brauer made history on March 7, 2024, as the first American woman to race solo nonstop around the world – a feat that fewer than 200 people have accomplished. As part of that journey, the 29-year-old professional sailor from Long Island finished second place in the Global Solo Challenge, one of the world’s most extreme sporting events, which she began last October in Spain.

Brauer’s travels will bring her to Roger Williams University on Wednesday, May 15, to speak about her exceptional journey, including the triumphs and challenges of more than four months at sea. A former member of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s varsity sailing team, Brauer will share her experiences as both a collegiate and professional sailor as well as her insights for current and aspiring sailors. The presentation will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the university’s Recreation Center Gymnasium on the Bristol campus, 1 Old Ferry Road. A Q&A portion will follow Brauer’s talk.

“Roger Williams University is delighted to host Cole Brauer, whose perseverance and passion for sailing is an inspiration for our exceptional student-athletes, especially our nationally ranked sailing team,” said RWU President Ioannis Miaoulis. “Cole’s story of pursuing her dreams and soaring to success will make for a remarkable evening.” 

At the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Brauer was a member of three national championship-qualifying teams and was a two-time Intercollegiate Sailing Association Academic All-American Team member. The sailing team’s top scholar-athlete in 2016, she was also named the 2017 Jack Bonham Award winner, the most prestigious award in UH athletics, according to the university. 

As part of the Global Solo Challenge, Brauer was the only woman in the fleet of 16 sailors who competed in the inaugural edition of the race. She raced in her 40-foot sailboat, First Light, past Africa, Australia, and South America, prevailing over tumultuous weather, freezing water, a rib injury, and dehydration, to finish in Spain.

Brauer’s talk is open to the public. Tickets are $30 for general admission, $10 for RWU faculty and staff with ID, and free for RWU students with ID. Ticket sales will benefit the RWU sailing team and Cole’s future sailing endeavors.

For group prices for high school sailing teams, coaches should email Amanda Callahan at

To purchase tickets, visit