Angela Madsen was a healthy young sailor, playing basketball when she suffered a serious back injury in 1981. When she operated again dozens of years later, at the age of 33, she woke up paralyzed from the waist. go down. She lost her job, her partner cleaned up her bank account and left her, and for a while she lived in the street, sleeping in a wheelchair in front of Disneyland.
But her story did not end there.
A natural athlete, she eventually rowed and competed. She started winning gold at the world paddle championships and competed in the Paralympics. Then she set her sights higher: rowing the oceans. She has conquered the Atlantic Ocean (twice) and the Indian Ocean and travels around England, all with rowing partners or a team.
In 2013, she tried her biggest challenge: sailing solo Pacific, from California to Hawaii. But she was caught up in a violent storm and had to be rescued. The following year, she made the trip with a partner. But she still aspires to do it alone.
Finally, this spring, she set out on her own, leaving Marina del Rey on April 24 in a 20-foot fiberglass capsule, Row of Life. She plans to land at the Hawaii Yacht Club in late July.
Others have taken the solo journey. But Madsen aims to be the first person to experience paraplegia, the first openly gay athlete and, at age 60, the oldest woman to do so.
She had been two and a half months to Hawaii when she discovered a problem with the hardware for her umbrella, …