Farewell to Angela Madsen, the iconic Paralympic rower with 14 Guinness World Records titles

By Kristen Stephenson

Guinness World Records is very saddened to learn of the passing of Angela Madsen, an accomplished multi-record holder, and Paralympic athlete.  

It was reported that the 60-year-old passed on while doing a solo row from California to Hawaii, a feat many of her fans were hoping to see her achieve.  

Madsen had an extraordinarily successful career as an athlete and practiced across several disciplines.  

Prolific in track and field as well as race rowing, she exhibited extensive talent on both land and sea.  

Early on, she exhibited a natural passion for athletics when she joined the Marines and was an active member of their basketball team.  

After experiencing an injury during a game, she underwent a failed surgery which subsequently caused her to remain in a wheelchair.  

Despite the challenge of adjusting to a new lifestyle, Angela did not let this stop her from showing the world what she was capable of.  

She began record-breaking in 2009 during one of her rows across the Indian Ocean with a team of eight individuals.  

The team of eight called “Pirate Row” consisted of skipper Simon Chalk, Helen Taylor, Paul Cannon, Ian Couch, (all UK), Angela Madsen, Doug Tumminello, Brian Flick (all USA) and Bernard Fissett (Belgium) on board the Aud Eamus between 28 April and 25 June 2009.  

They rowed 5,825 km (3,145 nautical miles) across the Indian Ocean east to west from Geraldton, WA to Mauritius in 58 days 15 hr 08 min – resulting in four records being broken including:  

  • First crossing of the Indian Ocean (team) - Pirate Row  
  • First female to row the Indian Ocean - Angela Madsen, Helen Taylor 
  • Oldest female to row the Indian Ocean - Angela Madsen 
  • First eight-person boat to row across any ocean – Aud Eamus 

The following year, Angela was part of a row around the British Mainland with an all-female team.  

The SeaGals consisted of Belinda Kirk, Laura Thomasson, Beverley Ashton (all UK) and Angela Madsen (USA), beginning and ending in London, UK, from 1 June to 23 July 2010.  

The effort was  part of the 2010 Virgin GB Row, which drew four entries. Only two teams went through with the attempt and the SeaGals were the only boat to finish.  

During that voyage, Angela achieved three record titles including oldest woman to row around the British mainlandfirst all-female team row around the British mainland and fastest unsupported row around the British mainland (female - quad). 

From 2011-2014, Angela achieved six additional record titles, three per two incredible rows she joined with teammates.  

The 2011 venture involved a 16-personcrew of the Big Blue, who crossed the Atlantic east to west from Tarfaya, Morocco, to Barbados, West Indies, from 15 January to 4 March 2011.  

The crew comprised of Angela Madsen (USA, skipper), David Davlianidze (Georgia), Ernst Fiby (Austria), Ryan Worth, Elizabeth Koenig, Aleksandra Klimas-Mikalauskas and Louise Graff (all USA), Liam Flynn (UK), Steve Roedde, Nigel Roedde, Dylan White, Zach Scher, Charles Wilkins and Sylvain Croteau (all Canada), Thomas Butscher (Switzerland/Canada) and Margaret Bowling (Australia). 

From that excursion, Angela helped to set) the record titles for the largest team to row an ocean, first team of 16 to row an ocean, and first female to row oceans three times. 

In 2012, Angela took a short break from rowing to join the Paralympic Games in Windsor Canada.  

In an F56 category, she broke the record for farthest shot put (female) tossing the discus an impressive 9.43 metres.  

Her most recent records stem from a 2014 row throughout the Mid-Pacific.  

Angela Madsen (USA) and Tara Remington (NZ), rowed east to west from Long Beach, California, USA, to Honolulu, Hawaii, in 60 days 5 hr 5 min, between 21 May and 20 July 2014 onboard the “Spirit of Orlando”. 

During this journey, they both earned titles for being the first all-female team to row across the Mid-Pacific, and the first team to row across the Mid-Pacific. 

Angela individually championed the record for the most ocean rows by a female ever, with a total of four.  

In total, she accrued 14 Guinness World Records titles in her lifetime – a true accomplishment .  

However, one of her most noteworthy qualities was her generosity to the community – as Angela was an active campaigner for LGBTQ+ rights and a grand marshal for the Long Beach Pride Parade in 2015. 

She also created a program for disabled rowers in California, so others could appreciate the sport as she did with proper training and guidance. 

Now, Angela’s legacy will forever live on in the record books, where she undoubtedly made history for women, the LGBTQ+ community, and individuals with disabilities.