Natalie Hart – When I decided to row across the Atlantic, I wasn’t thinking about the women I would meet. I thought more about salt sores and sleep deprivation, fantasised about dolphins and sunsets, and pondered the all-important question – where is the toilet?
However, the growing network of motivated, adventurous women I have found myself a part of by joining the One Ocean Crew has become a defining feature of the journey to the start line of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.
To row an ocean is no small feat – as many ocean rowers will enjoy telling you, significantly more people have summitted Mount Everest than have rowed across an ocean. Our race across the Atlantic, beginning in December 2020, will see our team of four women row two hours on, two hours off, 24/7 for 3000 miles and upwards of forty days.
Although female teams have always been a part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, they tend to be thinner on the ground. The 2019 race, for example, had five female teams, twenty-nine male teams, and one mixed crew. When putting our crew together we were contacted by more than sixty potential crewmates. Sixty women all raring for adventure.
The opportunity to talk to many of these individuals – to hear their story, their motivation, the thing that made them think ‘yes!’ to rowing an ocean – was fascinating. Stories ranged from the hilarious, to the inspiring, to the painfully sad. Almost all of them featured a resounding love of our planet’s life support system. With International Women’s Day coming up this weekend, I’d like to say thank you to all of those women.
The final One Ocean Crew is an international bunch – we’re from the US, UK and Lithuania, and a mix of an author, a physiotherapist, an endurance athlete and a world-traveller. We all bring something different to the mix. Previous teams who have done the row – especially female team RowHHome, the first German team to row the Atlantic – have been a source of knowledge and encouragement for us.
One of the common characteristics of the women I have come across since embarking on this challenge is the desire to lead a purposeful life. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many people who embark on this challenge are passionate about the state of the ocean and so use the opportunity to spread a message of sustainability in all its various forms.