Six Ladies Take Part in Trans-Atlantic Rowing Challenge

In December 2011, six ladies will depart from La Gomera (Canaries) to row unaided in the fastest trans-Atlantic row ever recorded. The women, all from Britain except their American skipper, will endure the harshest test known to mankind – to row across the Atlantic. It is a relatively unknown statistic that more people have been into space, than have rowed an ocean.

Row For Freedom, in aid of ECPAT UK, is a double-world record attempt to row across the Atlantic in the fastest time, whilst also being the first-ever team of six females to complete such an endurance challenge.

Departing on their epic journey in December 2011, the team comprises Julia Immonen, Debbie Beadle, Katie Pattison-Hart, Kate Richardson, Andrea Quigley and Helen Leigh. The girls are charity workers, models and athletes, hailing from Britain and the US, and have each been inspired to harness the positive power of sport to raise awareness and much needed funding for projects to tackle human trafficking.

The team will depart for La Gomera in the Canary Islands in mid-November, where they will spend a furious two weeks undertaking sea trials and packing the boat full of the provisions and stores they will need to keep their bodies fed and hydrated during the 5 week race. The world-record must be for an ‘unaided’ crossing, which means they will not see any support vessels or receive any help during the 5 week record attempt.

The ‘Row For Freedom’ team will be competing to become the first female crew to successfully row 3,000 miles from the Canary isles to Barbados in the fastest time. The team will wait for what they hope will be a storm-free weather window before pulling hard for Barbados. The team must try and avoid major storms as the boat has barely enough room for three people to rest. During severe storms the girls have to take cover in the minute cabin which is not even long enough to lie down in. Some of the girls have secretly opted to be lashed to the deck during storms rather than endure the sardine-can effect of squeezing themselves into a water-proof cabin.

The double world-record attempt, which is part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, is recognised as the world’s toughest rowing race. As a result the team will be rowing around the clock in all weather conditions for 40 days and 40 nights on a boat, which has aptly been named ‘The Guardian’. Row for Freedom aims to raise £1m for ECPAT UK, a charity which spearheads the attempt to end Child Prostitution and Slavery.

Julia Immonen comments: “We’ll be rowing 24 hours a day, 2 hours on – 2 hours off, for about 40 days without the support of our families. We have opted not to have news from home as we are worried that it will be too emotional to hear from close relatives when we are in the middle of the Atlantic. We are all incredibly driven to secure this world record whilst raising funds and awareness of the issue of child slavery across the world.”

The race route is no stranger to the plight for freedom. In the 15th Century, Christopher Columbus sailed the same course during his discovery of America and in the 1800s the route was used to transport slaves between the UK and the USA.

Today there are more people in slavery than ever before. It is estimated that 27 million people, half of these children, are modern day slaves and victims of human trafficking

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