Women sailors row into record books

 


An all-woman team have completed a crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, storming into the record books along the way, organisers said today.

The five-woman team called Row For Freedom completed the arduous task just after 5am UK time, arriving in Barbados after spending 45 days at sea.

They have become the first five-woman team to row any ocean, and have also completed the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by an all-female team, organisers said.

The women were taking part in the The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, rowing from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Barbados, and are raising money for charities that work to stop human trafficking.

Julia Immonen, Debbie Beadle, Kate Richardson, Katie Pattinson-Hart and Helen Leigh, were greeted in Barbados by family and friends as they arrived today.

Skipper Debbie Beadle said: "We're exhausted and relieved. We've seen nothing but the sea, dolphins and each other for 45 days, so it's overwhelming to see all our family and friends.

"Our bodies are falling apart - we're waking up with our hands cramped into the rowing position and our backs aching.

"We've been on dehydrated food and desalinated water for a month and a half, so we can't wait to have some proper food and an ice-cold cocktail! Oh, and to sleep in a proper bed!

"It's all so emotional - and to break a world record too!"

Simon Chalk, race official from organiser Woodvale Challenge, said: "It's an incredible achievement.

"Rowing the Atlantic is one of the most challenging expeditions in the world, and it took real tenacity for these girls to get through it in such incredible spirits and break the World Record in such convincing fashion."

Row For Freedom were rowing to raise money for The A21 Campaign and ECPAT UK, charities who work to stop human trafficking.

Team leader Julia Immonen said: "Whenever we felt low, we just thought about the cause.

"No matter how much we were suffering we knew it was far less than any victim of human trafficking.

"If we change the lives of just one victim, then our 45 days on the ocean will have been more than worth it."

Immigration Minister Damian Green has praised the group, saying: "This is a fantastic achievement and highlights the level of commitment this organisation and others put in to fighting this terrible crime.

"Human trafficking is an awful crime where people are treated as commodities. I am determined that Britain becomes more hostile to traffickers, and at the same time more compassionate to victims."

"I'd like to extend my warm congratulations to all five crew members and commend their efforts to raise the awareness of human trafficking and, in doing so, breaking two world records."

PA

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