Four members of the Exeter Rowing Club, who have spent the past year rowing together competitively in fine river boats, have decided to enter one of the toughest ocean races in the world, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.
Exeter’s Abby Jones, Kirsty Barker, Kate Salmon and Rosalind West will row more than 3000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean next year from San Sebastian in La Gomera, Canary Islands to Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbour in Antigua and Barbuda.
“United by our love for the ocean and for rowing it’s time for the next adventure and to swap our fine boats to one that will take us across the Atlantic,” they all agreed.
West is a physio living in Exeter and has rowed competitively at university; run marathons and triathlons; scubadived all over the world and has interned at the European Space Agency.
Jones meanwhile is still a student at the University of Exeter and has just finished studying a sports performance and excellence course and will now be studying for a foundation degree in sports therapy.
Salmon is a scientific consultant an the Met Office in Exeter. She has already had some experience at sea after breaking the women’s record for rowing the English Channel in a Cornish gig boat alongside seven other crew-mates back in 2013.
Finally, Barker is a landscape architect who took up rowing in Exeter after graduating from university. “Being six-foot-one I thought I’d better use my height to my advantage!” said Barker. “Luckily my work and family have been very understanding of the constant training and my incessant rowing talk.”
The four are supporting Surfers Against Sewage in their ‘Plastic Free Coastlines’ campaign which aims to make plastics an unexpected feature in the world’s oceans and beaches once again. Further details of their plans and aims can be found on their website: www.rowfortheocean.co.uk
Rowers from all over the world have entered the race which will be run at the end of 2018. All the teams will compete on equal terms in solo, pair, trio, four and five teams.
The idea of the Atlantic Challenge race was evolved by Sir Chay Blyth whilst he was rowing the Atlantic Ocean in 1966 with John Ridgeway. Their crossing was a 92 day battle against hurricanes, 50-foot waves and near starvation. “It’s no surprise then that more people have been into space or climbed Everest than have rowed the Atlantic,” ex- plained the official race website (www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com). “It takes a certain kind of person to keep going when faced with blisters, salt rash, sharks and sleep deprivation.”