Multiple Records Set in Atlantic Race

Three records have been set during this year’s Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. All crews left La Gomera in the Canary Islands on December 12. Over the last 10 days, they have been rowing across the finish line at Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua.

While some take part for the experience and aim simply to finish, many gun for new course records in the 5,000km race. Three crews have managed that feat this year.

We Are ExtraOARdinary

This all-female team arrived in Antigua on January 23. They completed the crossing in 42 days, seven hours, and 17 minutes, and broke the record for the fastest female trio to complete the TWAC. They knocked a staggering seven days off the previous record.

The UK trio of Kat Cordiner (42), Charlotte Irving (32), and Abby Johnston (31) set out from the first to break this record. The trio is not new to rowing or the ocean. Johnston and Irving rowed together at university and the former is a rowing coach. Meanwhile, Cordiner and Johnston met during the Clipper Round the World Race.

Glitter and Hawaiian shirts. Photo: @weareextraoardinary

 

Cordiner may also be the first cancer patient to take part in the TWAC. She has incurable secondary ovarian cancer. In 2020, while training for the race, the cancer returned and she had to undergo chemotherapy. The doctors then found a growth on her heart. She had to stop exercising immediately and undergo heart surgery.

As they finished, the women admitted that they underestimated how tough the challenge was going to be and that the first 10 days were the most difficult for them. “Nothing prepares you,” they said. “[Those days] were very emotional for all of us.”

Despite this, those following the trio would never have known their early struggles. Throughout the journey, they have donned Hawaiian shirts and face glitter and did karaoke to keep spirits high.

Force Atlantic

This military foursome completed the race in 40 days, 23 hours, and 57 minutes. As they crossed the line in Antigua, they became the fastest mixed four to row across the Atlantic. They beat the previous record by 33 hours.

Force Atlantic. Photo: Atlantic Campaigns

 

Scott Pollock, 39, Victoria Blackburn, 39, Phillip Welch, 37, and Laura Barrigan, 29, are serving members of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps. All have competed in the Indoor Rowing Championships. During the race, they rowed in pairs, rotating in two-hour shifts.

After finishing, Pollock said the biggest challenge they faced was sleep deprivation. They averaged about three hours of sleep a night during the row.

Atlantic Nomads 

This team set the record for the fastest mixed trio to make it to Antigua. They completed the race in 40 days and 37 minutes. Taylor Winyard (29), Tom Rose (28), and James Woolley (37) had their race thrown into chaos just weeks before the start. They were supposed to row as a four, but one member had to withdraw.

They quickly adapted their plan and figured out how to row as a trio. Shifting from two hours on, two hours off, to two hours on, one hour off was a challenge.

Atlantic Nomads. Photo: Atlantic Campaigns

 

Winyard agreed with the previous crew that sleep deprivation was the hardest part. She told The Scotsman, “There were highs and lows every day, but the crossing generally went very smoothly, although we did have issues with our GPS and autohelm in big seas.”

Steering at night was one of the biggest challenges, as they had to hand steer.

Unlike other crews, they had not set out to break any records. They described that as “the icing on the cake”. Winyard was also the first woman to cross the finish line this year. It was an emotional moment when their family and friends greeted them at the finish. “We could see the British flags and I could hear the sound of bagpipes,” she said. “It was so special.”

Rebecca McPhee is a freelance writer for ExplorersWeb.

Rebecca has been writing about open water sports, adventure travel, and marine science for three years. Prior to that, Rebecca worked as an Editorial Assistant at Taylor and Francis, and a Wildlife Officer for ORCA.

Based in the UK Rebecca is a science teacher and volunteers for a number of marine charities. She enjoys open water swimming, hiking, diving, and traveling.

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