September 8, 2015
Row Like A Girl: 1 Boat, 3000 Miles, 4 Girls.
‘Ocean Rowing is a man’s sport’…or at least thats what Bella Collins was told.
The Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge is a 3000 mile transatlantic ocean rowing race, from La Gomera in the Canaries, to Antigua in the Caribbean.
Their notorious tagline “More people have been to the space than have rowed across the Atlantic ocean’ entices the most extreme adrenaline junkies from all over the globe. The lure for facing salt sores, sleep deprivation, solitude, heat exhaustion and dehydration for up to 120 days; is not for the faint hearted. It will come as no surprise then, that it attracts a predominantly male participant list and less than 35 women have taken part in the race over the last decade.
…and that’s what makes Row Like A Girl’s crew member Bella Collins that bit special.
At just 22 years old, Bella will be one of four females attempting to become the youngest female four to row across the atlantic ocean. Not satisfied with just the one world record, they are also attempting to break the speed record set by any four man or women team.
Row360 chats to Bella about her latest challenge and what Row Like A Girl means to her…
Good Morning Bella, thanks for talking with us, when did you first start rowing?
I’ve come from a sailing background not rowing, so my first ever experience rowing was early in 2015 (and I rowed backwards…not a great start). Since then, I’ve been on the boat over a couple of weekends and picked up tips from the girls who were all university rowers and feel like my technique is getting much better.
So being a complete novice, Why choose the Talisker Whiskey Challenge?
People think I’m crazy, but I’ve always dreamt big. I come from a family of ocean rowers; my uncle holds the speed record for crossing the Atlantic Ocean and my brother holds the record for the youngest team to row across the Indian Ocean- so yer, you could say its been a long time coming!
I was looking for something different, so when the opportunity arose to row across the atlantic ocean, I thought lets go for this. Better to be bonkers then boring!
Being part of the Talisker Whiskey Challenge is joining a community – you receive advice and top tips from Atlantic Campaigns as well as from fellow rowers. And although it is a race, really we’re all in it together.
Your team is called Row Like A Girl, what does that mean to you?
Row Like A Girl is showing girls around the world to go out there and achieve what they want and dream. To not listen to negative attitudes about women, to ignore stereotypes and be who they want to be. Every girl has hang ups about their bodies; whether their thighs are small enough, if our teeth are white enough or our hair blonde.
We want to empower young females to believe in themselves and grab life with whatever it throws at them, regardless of size, background and looks. We are four very normal young girls, yet we are taking on something very extreme. I hope this will be inspiring.
How much does it cost to fund an expedition like this? How have you raised funds?
It does cost a fair amount to do an expedition like this and raising the funds is one of the hardest hurdles. It costs roughly £100,000-just to get to start-line! We have done this through sponsorship, contacting everyone and anyone to tell them our story. Its hard work , many sleepless nights and lots of hours on emails and conference calls. Luckily we’ve managed to get some fantastic sponsors on-board such as Codestone, our headline sponsor, MMCG, Scott Dunn Holidays, Clipper Logistics and Bayford Oils.
What’s an essential piece of kit?
To be honest, all our equipment is essential – we don’t take a huge amount with us to keep the boat as light as possible, so what we do take is 100% needed. Zhik have sponsored us with our clothing, both cold and warm weather gear. Having the right clothing is hugely important, especially in keeping morale high as rowing when you’re too wet/cold can be extremely de-motivating.
What do you envision being the toughest parts and what will you miss the most?
I think the sleep deprivation will be the toughest part, especially over the first 2 weeks or so. Sleeping for no more than 2 hours (if you’re lucky) at a time is not something our bodies have ever experienced and will be really hard to get used to. I hear it brings on hallucinations and very strange habits so this could be quite funny to see! Always look at the brighter side of life!
Being a foodie – I will miss good food. This is a common answer in Row Like A Girl, we all love food! I’ll also miss my family, hugely.
Forget the hard parts, what are you looking forward too?
I’m looking forward to seeing nature and the world at its rawest. I’m also looking forward to creating unforgettable memories with 3 amazing girls.
What charity and why?
We’re rowing for Plan International’s Because I Am A Girl campaign. We found this charity had the same ethos and goals as we do as a team. “Because I Am A Girl” supports millions of girls around the world, getting them into education, stopping violence, and changing the opportunities to give girls’ their freedom and independence. I have amazing memories from my upbringing and school life, I want every girl to have the same.
How can we donate?
We are trying to raise £50,000 for PLAN. You can donate by heading to our website www.rowlikeagirl.uk and clicking on the “Donate” button.
Thanks Bella and Good Luck!
Watch Bella’s promotional video: https://vimeo.com/127009663
The Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge will start on December 15th 2015. You can find out more about Bella and Row Like A Girl at facebook.com/rowlikeagirl or for race information at https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com.