After 62 days at sea, they’re home and dry! Having raised both the profile of ocean plastic pollution and funds for MCS, Susan Ronaldson, Jess Rego and Caroline Wilson, aka “Team Status Row”, have made it to Antigua after taking part in the gruelling Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.
They came second in the ‘trio’ category and 22nd overall out of 27 competing boats. For three women who had never even sat on a rowing machine just 18 months ago…this is a truly amazing feat.
The trio left La Gomera, just off Tenerife, on December 12th and arrived at the finish line in Nelson’s Harbour, Antigua just after 8.30am on February 11th. The event isn’t called the World’s Toughest Row for nothing. The girls have been attacked by flying fish, suffered from a serious lack of wind, had a variety of oar injuries, ridden out sliding seat problems, lost their hand-held bilge pump hose overboard and had moments of tears as well as a laughter – some accompanied by their music system and some not when it failed – a journey low point.
Jess Rego blogged that as their voyage drew to a close, she was spending less than an hour a day standing or crawling, six hours lying down, four hours in a state of partial recline, and 13 plus “sat on my bum.”
Fellow rower and MCS Trustee, Susan Ronaldson, spoke of how even going to the loo was a drama that “involves securing the oars, scrambling along a rocky deck on your hands and knees, unhooking the bucket and leaning over the side to part fill it with water. The challenge is to stay upright on the bucket which is hard enough at the best of times.”
The girls completed the challenge in their boat Poppy, built by Justin Adkins of Devon based, SeaSabre. Poppy is a pure boat, meaning she is designed not to catch the wind as much as other boats, but that has meant more rowing for the girls to do, and longer periods of inertia when the wind dropped.
MCS Public Engagement Officer, Alisdair Naulls, has been keeping in touch with the Status Row team during the Challenge and says he’s delighted they’ve arrived safe and sound: “How big a deal is this? More people have summited Everest than rowed across an ocean. Wow. Well done to all the teams but especially our very ordinary, extraordinary women, Jess, Caroline and Susan. None of them Olympians. None of them stars of track and field. All of them incredible. Powered by a drive, will and passion to highlight the threat to this blue planet of our wasteful plastics habit. A super massive well done, thank you and oh-my-goodness-you-are-amazing from us ALL at the Marine Conservation Society and all our supporters following your row. You’re are truly OARsome!”