School of Hotel Administration alumna Megan Guefen ’19 will row across the Pacific Ocean in June 2024 as a part of the second Pacific edition of the World’s Toughest Row competition, a pair of endurance races where competitors must row across either the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean. The Pacific race is a 2,800-mile row that begins in Monterey, California and ends in Hanalei, on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
Although Megan Guefen had never rowed before making this decision, her sister Gabe Guefen was a rower in college. The two sisters will journey to Hawaii as part of the team Rowing Oceans for Women, which includes two other rowers, Kaitlyn Piltzecker and Hannah Byrd. The sisters did a search for teammates, interviewing multiple people before finalizing their group. They have named their boat the Julie after their late mother, who died of cancer in January.
“[My mom] always taught us that we could always achieve anything we set our minds to and to dream big, and that’s exactly what we are doing,” Megan Guefen said. “We know she’s going to bring us good luck on our journey and we hope to make her proud.”
Rowing Oceans for Women aims to break the previous record to complete the row of 34 days for an all-female team on the Pacific route, with shifts of two hours rowing and two hours eating, cleaning, maintaining or fixing equipment and sleeping. Since rowers will not be able to sleep for more than 90 minutes at a time, they often lose weight and experience hallucinations during the race, according to the World’s Toughest Row website.
Megan Guefen said she and her team are rowing completely unsupported, meaning they are carrying all of the supplies that will sustain them during their journey across the Pacific. These supplies include oars, medical kits, food, coffee and a solar-powered water maker on the boat.
The team has already begun their training for this endeavor. To focus solely on preparing for the race, Megan Guefen has resigned from her job. Training programs should involve a total of at least 72 hours of on-water training before the race, with at least 12 of those hours being conducted in complete darkness, according to Rowing Oceans for Women’s website.
Rowing Oceans for Women has launched a fundraiser on their website to financially support the entire race. Megan Guefen said they plan to donate any additional financial sponsorship assistance to the Hawaiʻi Domestic Violence Action Center and the Women’s Sports Foundation.
“Seeing that our mission is to inspire women to take on their biggest challenges, we feel that it is important to give back to communities that uplift and empower women,” Megan Guefen said.
Megan Guefen said that her mother’s legacy propels her passion to break gender barriers.
“As our mom inspired us, we hope to inspire other women to take on whatever challenge is in front of them regardless of if it seems impossible on paper. More often than not, women are disregarded when our goals are perceived as being set too high or even considered ‘crazy,’” Megan Guefen said. “We want to prove that there is no such thing as a dream too big.”
Nia Perry ’25 is a Sun contributor and can be reached at [email protected].