An exclusive interview with rower, Lia Ditton
Lia Ditton, 36, has more than 150,000 nautical miles of experience – the equivalent of 8 laps of the globe – and has competed at a high level in some of the world’s most challenging ocean races.
Lia Ditton is a professional sailor and writer, passionate about sharing her extraordinary experiences at sea by translating them into contemporary art installations.
The only woman to complete the OSTAR 2005 single-handed transatlantic race, the experience formed the basis of Lia’s 2006 installation, Absolute Solitude: One Woman, One Boat in which Lia lived on her boat next to the Tate Britain Gallery for 28 days – the same number of days as it took her to sail to America.
A licensed captain, Lia has since come 2nd in the Route du Rhum, France’s most-prestigious, single-handed transatlantic race; captained the boat from the film Waterworld starring Kevin Costner; become the 53rd woman to row the Atlantic and the 64th woman to row any ocean, and project managed the largest solar-powered boat in the world.
Departing in early 2018, Lia will attempt to row some 5,000 nautical miles alone from Japan to San Francisco.
Lia’s boat is 21ft long and will be packed with 6 months worth of food (although we seriously hope it won’t take that long).
The closest human beings will be 90 miles overhead in the International Space Station.
Lia must take everything with her that she needs to survive.
40-foot seas, 60-knot winds, whales, dolphins and sharks – there is nothing pacific about the Pacific. The Pacific Ocean is arguably the hardest and wildest stretch of ocean in the world.
Lia Ditton recently spoke at London Speaker Bureau’s annual conference, exciting us all with her tales of her solo trips across the world’s oceans. We asked Lia some questions about how she drives herself to take on such testing expeditions as well as some of the most challenging aspects of her adventures.
What inspired your passion for sailing?
A voyage from Thailand to Turkey across the Indian Ocean. I signed up as the cook, but discovered that boats were a passport to bizarre experiments in anthropology and otherworldly experiences with nature.
What is the most difficult aspect of your sailing expeditions?
Keeping the faith through the trials of securing sponsorship.
How do you deal with being a woman in a male-dominated profession?
‘Men are often hired on potential, women for their experience and track record’ according to a McKinsey report. In my experience that has been the case.
My approach has been humility over bitterness; hard work rather than complaint. Thankfully the tide is beginning to turn for equality.
What are your favourite topics to talk about in your keynote speeches?
The power of positive thinking, how to maintain humour in the face of adversity, our incredible untapped potential and how enduring is the key to endurance.
How do you think the lessons you’ve learnt in your training and expeditions could be transferred to a business context?
In business and in life we often find ourselves trapped in a boat with other people bracing for a storm! It’s our preparation, perception of events and our reactions that we can control.