Anna Fisher is gearing up to take on the Around the Island Race (ATIR), hoping she will blaze a trail for others to come. Fisher will be the first woman, and only the second person, to row the race solo. The 45km ATIR, organised by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, is on November 15. Last year, Ben Booth visited from America and became the first solo rower in the ATIR. “I’m just very competitive, I like being first at everything. Because there is already a man that has done it, but no woman, I think it’s time. No one’s doing it this year, so I’m going to do it,” Fisher, 29, said. “I keep talking the talking with my friends. Women. Women. Women. I even get annoyed when I see industries that are just men. But I can’t talk the talk and not walk the walk. So ATIR, I might as well just do it myself. I can’t keep complaining that no woman has done it, I should just do it myself.” This will be Fisher’s fourth and last ATIR for a while. Part of her motivation is that she is leaving Hong Kong in 2021 to live in France. Fisher’s first ATIR was as a relay in a quad but she found it really tough: “The waves were so big, so, so big. When we were in the troth, we couldn’t see the safety boat. It was a bunch of people who hadn’t done it before and we just tried it out.” First black person to row an ocean aims for another historic voyage The second time, she completed the full distance with a more serious crew and enjoyed the experience. Last year, Fisher was cox for a quad. She has also represented Hong Kong is sailing, competing in the 2018 Asian Games after only taking up the sport around 18 months earlier. Fisher loves being part of a team. Having a shared goal with a crew mate and achieving it together is part of the appeal of rowing. She looks back fondly on the University Championships when she was a student. “I did it one year in a double. We came third by 0.03 seconds. That was horrendous. It was a photo finish, they had to check. I was like, what the hell! So we trained even more. We changed the programme. We stopped training with other people and only did our double. Next year we came silver. It felt amazing, I think I cried,” Fisher said. Last year, Fisher teamed up with Shiu Ho-yan to compete in the World Rowing Coastal Championships in Hong Kong, just eight months after Shiu had surgery on her knee. The journey together “creates a lasting bond. I have a bond with her”, Fisher said. Lacking the camaraderie in the ATIR is a pity, but also part of the challenge. “I’ll be a little sad not to have someone with me,” she said. “But I’ve never really challenged myself in a single. I see this as my personal challenge. I hate singles so I’m going to do the hardest single race there is.” Zen Buddhism and rowing around Hong Kong Island’s ‘tumultuous water’ Fisher is raising money for two charities – Ocean Recovery Alliance, a Hong Kong-based plastic pollution charity, and Hero Rats, a charity that trains rats to detect mines in Cambodia. Rats are light enough not to set of the mines, but smart enough to know where they are and alert their minders. Fisher said she hates losing more than she likes winning. The people who suggested she attempt a solo ATIR played on her competitive nature and kept mentioning the word “first”, and it took two minutes to convince her. “I just get so frustrated when I lose, but I’m not the type that gets frustrated and never does it again. No, what did I do badly this time, what can I do differently if I do it again and do better next time? Even if I don’t win next time, I improve,” she said. ‘Self-inflicted torture’: disabled duo to row around Hong Kong Island “When I want to slow down, I imagine myself passing other people. I picture it like a movie, when you catch someone, then you are side by side, and then you overtake them. I focus on those moments, but for ATIR I’m still working on my mental playlist,” she said. To help develop this, Fisher intends to reach out to Booth, who lived in a Shaolin Temple in China for a year, and has been continuously developing his mind since. Booth’s strength in rowing comes from his Buddhist mindset, viewing rowing as an extension of the mind and body. Fisher’s strength comes from her competitive drive and will to win. She has the mental arsenal to succeed and trail blaze for women, but is always willing to learn. “That’s why I need to talk to Ben Booth. I’m not very Zen, I need some tips,” she added. You can donate to Fisher’s two charities here .