Boat Builder Jim Betts is Announced as Latest Renowned Name to Back Ocean Rower Lia Ditton in Solo Pacific Challenge

Expert team behind Ocean Signal-sponsored athlete grows in force ahead of world-record row attempt from Japan to San Francisco in March 2020

Ocean Signal-sponsored solo rower Lia Ditton with: (from left) Jim Betts, Geoff Thilo, Will Porter and Jim Antrim

Acclaimed boat builders James Betts Enterprises will build the Antrim-designed ocean rowboat for Lia Ditton’s historic bid to become the first person to row solo across the North Pacific Ocean from land to land.

Jim Betts is the latest well-known industry specialist to sign up in support of the ground-breaking project, a year before Lia is set to depart from Choshi, Japan, on a mission to row 5,500 nautical miles, alone and uns

upported, across the Pacific Ocean to the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco.
After working together on other projects, Betts is reunited with naval architect Jim Antrim in creating Lia’s new boat that will be light, fast and safe, easy to propel through the water, and capable of withstanding capsize and the extremely tough conditions expected during the crossing. With safety a primary concern, Ditton is also supported by leading safety at sea specialist Ocean Signal as the Project Safety Sponsor. The Ocean Signal equipment, which will be secured to the exterior of the boat and carried by Ditton to help mitigate risk as much as possible, includes two rescueME PLB1 Personal Locator Beacons, a SafeSea E100G EPIRB Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, a SafeSeaV100 VHF handheld radio and a rescueME EDF1 Electronic Distress Flare.

Currently in training in the Los Angeles area, Lia said: “I am delighted to announce James Betts Enterprises, known as ‘Betts Boats’, as the builder of my new custom-built ocean rowboat. With a history of building avant-garde designs and regatta-winning boats, Betts was an obvious choice to build my new Antrim-design for which attention to detail and build weight will be critical: every ounce over is an ounce I must row across the Pacific! To my delight, Jim Betts was interested in the project.
“To date, 18 attempts have been made to solo row from Choshi to the Golden Gate Bridge. Two were successful in reaching the west coast of the US. Both were men and both were towed the last 20 and 50 miles respectively, leaving the land-to-land record arguably up for grabs. My new boat has been designed to be competitive with the men’s records and to withstand a category 5 typhoon, the likes of which were rarer when the men’s records were set in 1991 and 2005.”
Designed for maximum efficiency while rowing, and also while sleeping, resting and during ‘storm survival’, the new Antrim design has an ergonomic rowing deck custom to Lia’s dimensions.

Jim Betts said: “We are honored to be Lia’s first choice builder for her heroic quest. The sense of adventure and commitment it takes to even attempt this kind of endeavor should be an inspiration to us all and will have a profound impact on young girls and boys for generations to come.
“In 1970, I had the dream of building custom boats. Betts has since expanded into a dedicated team of craftsmen, but continues to be a successful family business thanks to the values we share with Lia: hard work and determination. We are thrilled to share our skills to make Lia’s dream a reality.”
The talented team at Betts Boats has built first class boats of every type, from local club racers to America’s Cup Yachts. Aside from Jim Antrim’s designs, notable builds include: Lowell North’s private yacht ‘Sleeper’ that went on to race the Admiral’s Cup in Cowes, England; the Reichel/Pugh raceboat ‘Zephyrus IV,’ the overall winner of Cape Town to Rio in 2000; and Paul Bieker’s Riptide 35 Mk2 raceboat ‘Longboard’.

Naval Architect Jim Antrim added: “I’ve worked on numerous projects with ‘Jim B’ dating back almost thirty years. Betts is a joy to work with: enthusiastic, energetic, smart, and skilled. He’s built three of my designs, including a 22’ aluminum RIB, a 100’ power catamaran (the ‘Proteus’ aka WAM-V), and the Open 50 ‘Convergence’ (later ‘Everest Horizontal’). Jim has a wealth of knowledge in all aspects of boat building. He’s ready to accept new ideas and quick to propose a better way to build. If there was an Oscar for boat building, Betts would have won for the prepreg methods he devised – that’s just one example of his brilliance!

“When Lia and I visited the shop, the rapport was immediate and obvious. I am so pleased to have the Betts team building Lia’s boat.”

Ocean Signal General Manager James Hewitt added: “We are watching Lia’s preparations with interest as she secures the support of some of the industry’s top names. She deserves to be backed by the best for her incredible challenge and we are really pleased that our products will give her the reassurance she needs when she is thousands of miles from land that she can reach the rescue authorities at the press of a button.”

Lia will cast off from Japan just before the Tokyo 2020 games, with her journey expected to take between four and six months.
For more information on Lia Ditton, go to, follow Lia on Twitter @RowLiaRow or Facebook at To support the RowLiaRow crowdfunding campaign, go to

For more details about James Betts Enterprises go to and for Jim Antrim visit For further information about Ocean Signal’s products, visit