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A record holder is back home in Louisville. 

Even though Tori Murden didn't complete the journey to France in a row boat, she did break two records in her attempt. 

Murden flew into the Louisville International Airport last night and received a hero's welcome. 

The remnants of Hurricane Danielle forced Murden to abandon ship when she had already rowed about two thirds of the way.  At that point, she set the American record for distance and a women's world record for time at sea. 

"Sometimes it was really difficult; other times it was grand," she said.   "Some of the happiest days I've had in my whole life were out there.  And some of the toughest days I've had in my whole life were out there.  I wouldn't trade the experience for anything." 

Years of rowing never prepared Tori Murden for the peril she would face alone in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. 

As hurricane force winds battered her 23-foot craft - overturning it 11 times over a 12-hour period - Murden thought she might never see her Louisville home again. 

“The sea turned different colors and the waves did things I’d never seen before,” Murden told a crowd of about 120 well-wishers gathered at Louisville International Airport to welcome her home Monday night. “The force of that was really impressive. 

“... I was really scared sometimes. But I learned a lot during those times that I was scared because the fear goes away eventually and - once the fear goes away - you realize how strong you really are.” 

Hurricane Danielle foiled Murden’s attempt to become the first American and first woman to row solo across the Atlantic. Danielle hit Murden and her tiny vessel Sept. 5 after she had rowed 2,653 nautical miles - about two thirds of the way. 

Her boat, the American Pearl, overturned 18 times during her 85 days at sea. As 30-foot swells caused by Danielle tossed her about the cabin like a rag doll, she tried anything she could to overcome her fear. 

“At one point, I stuck my feet on the ceiling and sang, ‘I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener’ as loud as I could,” Murden said, clutching a small American flag tightly to her chest. 

Murden waited until Sept. 7 before triggering her emergency distress beacon, not wanting to use it until she was positive her rescuers wouldn’t risk their lives trying to save her. 

The storm soon passed, but she was too badly injured from being knocked around the boat to finish the trip. She called for help early Sept. 7, and a cargo ship, the Independent Spirit, picked her up that afternoon. She arrived in Eddyville, Pa., about 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia, on Sunday and returned home Monday night. 

Blue and yellow balloons, flowers, banners and signs reading ‘Welcome Home! From one Independent Spirit to another!’ and ‘She’s Our VicTORIous!’ awaited her as she stepped up to the podium at an impromptu news conference. 

Murden smiled and laughed through puffy black and blue bruises on her face and forehead to answer several questions about sharks, whales and dolphins from curious children.  

Kentucky Lt. Gov. Steve Henry also was on hand to present Murden with a silver julep cup as a tribute to her courage and spirit. 

“Tori Murden set out to be the best and that’s the attitude we’re trying to instill in all Kentuckians right now, whether it be in education or sports or whatever,” Henry said. “That’s what our children need to be looking toward today.”  

Murden left Nags Head, N.C., on June 14 and had expected to reach Brest, France - 3,635 miles away - this month or in early October. Though she did not reach her goal, she did spend more consecutive days at sea than any other female rower and established a record for most miles rowed solo by any American, man or woman. 

Five men have successfully rowed solo across the north Atlantic Ocean; four finished in less than 85 days. Had she succeeded, she would have been the first American and first woman to complete the journey. 

Murden, however, was no stranger to peril upon beginning her adventure. In 1989, she became the first woman and first American to ski to the South Pole. 

Following the warm welcome home, Murden hedged on telling the crowd she would again set out to successfully complete her quest. 

“There are so many goals I want to chase after in the real world, meaning the civilized world,” said Murden, a lawyer working for the city of Louisville in economic development. “I’ve been telling people all day I would try the Atlantic again. I just don’t know.” 

Sector 'No Limits' Athlete Alone at Sea 85 Days

PHILADELPHIA – (Sept. 13, 1998) – Amid the cheers of friends and well
wishers, American Tori Murden arrived Philadelphia today after establishing
a world record for the longest time at sea by a woman solo rower. Since
departing Nags Head, N.C., on June 14, Murden rowed 2,653 nautical miles in
85 days – spending more consecutive days alone at sea than any other woman
rower. She has also established the record for the most miles rowed solo by
any American -- man or woman. Hurricane Danielle brought an end to her solo
attempt to cross the North Atlantic when international emergency forces
coordinated a daring rescue 950 miles west of Brest, France, her target
destination. Murden was picked up Sept. 7 by the Independent Spirit, a
container merchant vessel bound for Philadelphia, after a two-day,
near-death encounter with Hurricane Danielle. "I am doing just fine,"
Murden reported. "I was knocked around quite a bit. I tore a rotator cuff
in my right shoulder, but it will heal." Danielle mercilessly battered
Murden's 23-foot rowboat, the sector no limits™ American Pearl, with 30-foot
waves last weekend. "The first day of Danielle, the 5th, was horrific,"
said Murden. "I capsized 11 times over a 12 to 14 hour period." Although
Murden said Sept. 6 was significantly calmer, she capsized again during
daylight hours. But as the front passed and the waves became steeper,
Murden capsized three more times that evening. The sector no limits™
American Pearl is designed to self-right and self-bale after capsizing.

"The last capsize before I decided to end the row, I was pitch poled,"
said. "The boat went end over end. The sea anchor was tangled over the
bow. I was convinced I would die."
According to reports, Murden's emergency signal was received at 4:45
GMT, Sept. 7. An RAF aircraft was dispatched from Scotland and spotted
Murden aboard her boat. The Falmouth, U.K. coast guard asked the
Independent Spirit to change course and answer the distress signal.
Attempts to salvage Murden's rowboat failed due to rough sea conditions.
"After I boarded the Independent Spirit, I reviewed a weather map," said
Murden. "A force 10 grade gale was heading straight at us, and I realized I
would not survive another storm. I realized it was not my time."
Murden was just five weeks short of completing her projected journey.
successful, she would have become the first woman and first American to row
solo across and ocean.
When asked whether she would attempt the journey again, Murden did not
out the possibility. "But it's a lot to ask of my friends," she said.
Murden is sponsored by Sector Sport Watches, as part of the company's
Limits" philosophy. Providing ongoing support and technical assistance to
extreme athletes and adventurers worldwide, Sector encourages individuals
who dare test the outer limits of human endurance.
Last year, Peggy Bouchet of France spent 80 days alone at sea when she
attempted an east to west crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. Bouchet was
rescued 120 miles east of Guadeloupe, her target destination. # # # 13
September 1998

Contact: Kevin Plagman, Shannon Matus or Susan Barnes
Communications West
1426 Eighteenth Street, San Francisco, Calif. 94107
Telephone: 415-863-7220 Fax: 415-621-2907