Transatlantic record bid blown off course by headwinds
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
A FORMER Cotherstone resident has battled sleep deprivation, strong headwinds and flying fish to reach the half way mark in the race across the Atlantic nicknamed “the world’s toughest row”.
Georgia Leech, a former Barnard Castle prep school pupil, and friends Hannah Walton and Florence Ward aim to be the quickest and youngest female trio to complete the epic row as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.
They set off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands in December in their specially commissioned Rannoch R45 Elite boat, named Dolly Parton, and have already completed 1,200 nautical miles of the 2,700-mile race, which they hope to complete in 45 days.
Ms Leech, 24, who now lives in London, developed a love for rowing while studying creative advertising at Lincoln University. She teamed up with Ms Walton and Ms Ward, of Bristol University, after her original team to enter the challenge disbanded.
Dubbed the Atlantic Antics, they are raising cash for the Women in Sport and Rowing Together for Healthy Minds charities and they have remained in contact with family and friends via satellite phone.
Ms Leech’s mother, Pippa, told the Mercury, they had reached the race’s halfway mark and although making steady progress, strong headwinds were going to make achieving the record crossing time more difficult but their spirits remain high.
Mrs Leech added: “The wind has not been in their favour and they, and indeed the whole fleet, have spent days battling headwinds so the record for being the fastest is now going to be hard to achieve. But the girls have not given up hope of breaking the record.
“There have been tough times when, because of the weather, they have had to alter their rowing pattern by sleeping for only an hour at a time. They usually sleep for two hours and then row for two hours throughout the night.
“Due to headwinds, they have had to deploy their para anchor on a couple of occasions just to keep their boat from being blown backwards.”
As well as battling wind the girls had a close call with a large cargo ship.
Mrs Leech added: “They did come rather too close to an extremely large cargo ship one night. Luckily radio contact was made and the ship managed to change course. It came within 0.6 nautical miles, which was close enough.
“They have encountered pods of dolphins and the odd whale here and there. Flying fish are a hazard and they have been hit in the face by these a number of times whilst at the oars.”
Rowing at night has proved to be exhilarating though with shooting stars and bioluminescence in the water.
Mrs Leech said: “They have approximately 1,500 nautical miles to the finish line. The weather is due to change in the coming days with the winds getting stronger, hopefully in the right direction. This should see them gain some speed and ride some big waves.”
People can follow the team’s antics by visiting atlantican tics2020.com or on Instagram@atlanticantics2020. To donate to their fundraising effort visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/atlanticantics.