Ros, Kirsty, Laura and Kate, are the founders of Row For The Ocean, a 3000 mile row of the Atlantic; to raise awareness of the ocean plastic crisis. The girls are working with the charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) to establish a Plastic Free Exeter by 2020. Working with SAS and also the charity’s Ocean Schools Programme, the girls want to also inspire and educate the younger community about the future and the environment.
We were lucky enough to speak with these four very amazing ladies, who told us a little more about their mission! Keep reading to find out more about Row For The Ocean…
Q&A with Row For The Ocean!
Why did the four of you amazing ladies decide to take on this challenge?
I think we see it as the ultimate challenge, once we have stepped on to the boat there is no escaping until we reach the other side. Since starting the campaign, we have also been driven to succeed by the amazing support we have received and the want to create real change in Exeter by reducing single-use plastics.
What was the planning process behind the idea of the row and when was the idea first thought up?
Ros had the idea, she sent us through the link in January 2017 and it took us 6 months to decide to sign up after realising we couldn’t think of a reason not to (apparently the fear of dying at sea isn’t enough to put us off!). For the past 9 months we’ve spoken to as many people that have gone before us as possible to make sure we’re ready for the race start, it’s a big learning curve, but absolutely worth it!
What do you hope to achieve through your 3,000-mile row?
Our aim is simple, we see Exeter as a Plastic Free Coastline Community by 2020; and us winning the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, to ensure we get the most coverage possible for Surfers Against Sewage and the fight against single-use plastics. We want to raise £60,000 for SAS to go towards their Ocean Schools programme.
Where will you be launching and finishing the row?
The row starts in La Gomera in the Canaries and finishes in the lovely English Harbour in Antigua.
Prior to this challenge how long had you each been rowing?
Kirsty, Ros and Kate had all rowed for 5-7 years before takin on the challenge. Laura , whilst not rowing in fine boats (think Olympics), has rowed around GB in 2016!
How long do you think it will take to complete the row?
We’re aiming for under 40 days however we’ll be taking food for up to 60! It really depends on the weather we get so we’re hoping for winds – in the right direction of course!
What does your weekly training schedule look like?
3 sessions on the rowing machine and 2 weights sessions is our base training schedule, however some weeks we’ll also add other cardio workouts in to up the workload and mix it up a bit. Training for 12 months can become monotonous so it’s good to make sure you’re enjoying it!
Have you had to train in a specific way for this challenge?
We’ve recently been lucky enough to get Silver Olympic rower Guin Batten on board who rowed across the North Atlantic a few years ago. She’s currently helping us to build up our endurance on the rowing machine so that we’re ready for the 2 hour on 2 hour off shift patterns. James Parkes from Exeter Chiefs Strength and Conditioning team has also put together our weights programme – it’ll be important to have core strength when getting bashed from all angles by the Atlantic.
Can you tell us a little about the boat that will be taking you across the Atlantic?
We’ll be taking an R45 Ocean Rowing boat built by Rannoch Adventure in Essex. She’s already crossed the Atlantic twice and weathered a Force 10 storm so we know she’s up to the task! She’s 8.5 x 2m in size and has two cabins at either end that can sleep two people; she also self rights after capsizing (great!).
How much ‘stuff’ can you take with you on this adventure? What will your packing lists look like?
As we’re aiming to be the fastest women in the race we’re going to be very careful with how much we take. The race specifies the essential items and equipment we’ll need – Watermaker for fresh water, first aid kit, lots of food, jetboil, suncream, wet weather clothing and about a hundred other items including an anchor (not that useful for the Atlantic which is 5000m deep in places but the risk of hitting the reefs in Antigua makes it a necessity).
What are the biggest dangers/ scariest situations that could occur?
Capsize is always a danger, whilst we’ll be tied to the boat at all times the moments we enter and leave the cabins with the doors open are the riskiest. If we capsize with a door open the boat won’t self right which has caused crews to need rescuing in the past! Help can also be quite far away so we’ve had to train ourselves to know what to do in an emergency – including getting the liferaft out as a last resort.
What are you most looking forward to during your adventure?
The simplicity of life will be fantastic – no distractions, no mobile phones, just you and the boat. There will also be amazing sunsets, wildlife, and views hardly anyone else have ever seen!
What will you miss the most?
We like to answer this one with family and friends excluded – of course we will miss them! A good shower will be missed, a coffee in bed, and also just some alone time – whilst we’re all good friends a 8.5x2m boat doesn’t allow more much personal space!
Will supporters be able to track your movements somehow?
The race is tracked by Yellow Brick – they have an app that updates every 4hours so you can see how we’re getting on. I always say it’s good to leave it a day so it looks like we’re moving faster!
What are the different ways supporters can get involved?
We will be launching a Crowdfunder campaign for some of the final items of equipment on the 19th May 2018 so we want as many people as possible to support and spread the word! We’ve also got the opportunity for businesses to become a Row for the Ocean partner, here they’re able to get their logo on the boat and receive coverage through our social media, the press and the race media! You can visit www.rowfortheocean.co.uk for more details or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.