Team Liz & Lena: Featuring Liz Wardley & Lena Kurbiel

Team Liz & Lena: Featuring Liz Wardley & Lena Kurbiel

3 minutes

When Lena Kurbiel watched Liz Wardley complete the World’s Toughest Row—Atlantic in December 2023 and smash the race record for her category by 15 days, it inspired her to try it herself. She reached out to Liz for advice on undertaking this type of project, and the two quickly decided to partner up to compete in the World's Toughest Row—Pacific. The successfully completed crossing will make Lena the youngest ever to row across the Pacific Ocean and Liz the first to complete the World's Toughest Row Atlantic and Pacific back-to-back. 

Liz and Lena on the dock

Lena (left) in the Meris Jacket and Liz (right) in Taku bib

Liz Wardley  

Liz always has an adventure on the go; it's just the scale of them that varies.  

In 2020, she saw the fleet of the Talisker Whisky Challenge—now called The World's Toughest Row—arrive in Antigua, and the cogs started turning. In early 2023, she bought her ocean rowing boat, Tic Tac, and finally entered to race solo across the Atlantic Ocean.  

Liz has raced around the world three times and clocked over 600,000nm at sea, yet when she collapsed on the dock in Antigua after 44 days of rowing; she said, 'I've never had to dig so deep'.  

It may have been the adrenaline of shaving 15 days off the women's solo race record, but a few days after the finish, she hobbled (walking was still a challenge) into the race office and signed up to do the World's Toughest Row—Pacific 2024.  

Doing these races back-to-back hasn't been done yet; there is a fine line between recovery and training, and Liz is navigating that path at the moment, but looking forward to the challenge. 


Liz Wardley rowing Tic Tac

Liz rowing Tic Tac in the Women's Torrens Hooded Thermal Jacket

Fast Facts: 

  • Born and raised in Papua New Guinea 
  • Fishing is her first love 
  • Has raced around the world 3 times 
  • Is a kite surfing and wing foiling addict 
  • Holds the race record for fastest solo female WTR—Atlantic 



Lena Kurbiel  

Lena Kurbiel is a 17-year-old dual citizen of France and Canada, born and raised in France. She is currently in her senior year at Lycee International in St-Germain-en-Laye, where she excels both academically and athletically.  

Ocean adventure runs in Lena’s DNA.  Lena was born to a family of Polar explorers. Her grand-father, Janusz Kurbiel, lead 36 scientific expeditions to the Arctic breaking many world records and advancing environmental science.  Her own father, Daniel, also went to the Arctic on a few expeditions before excelling in Olympic sailing in the Finn and Star classes 

In the realm of sports, Lena has achieved remarkable success. She is a French National Champion in sailing, in the ILCA 4 class. She has also discovered Olympic rowing and has claimed the title of French National Champion in senior women's quadruple sculls. Her achievements also extend to indoor rowing, where she has secured National Championships medals.  

Looking towards the future Lena has committed to Duke University in the USA, where she will pursue her passion for rowing while studying Environmental Science and Policy. This blend of athletic dedication and academic pursuit speaks volumes about Lena's determination and commitment to making a positive impact in the world.  

Lena is not one to shy away from challenges. Embarking on the Pacific crossing in June 2024 with Liz Wardley is a testament to her adventurous spirit and resilience.  

Lena rowing


Fast Facts: 

  • Her grand-father was the first to sail the North West Passage West to East   
  • Lena has Polish, Korean, Canadian and German origins 
  • She is fluent in French and English and has a good mastery of Spanish  
  • For three years she has helped mentally disabled athletes integrate in sport through rowing 
  • She is an avid baker 
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