In just over two weeks four British women will embark upon a formidable task: rowing across the Pacific Ocean without any support. Physiotherapist Laura Penhaul, 31, from Cornwall, travel operations manager Natalia Cohen, 40, from Manchester, solicitor Isabel Burnham, 30, from Cambridge and expedition manager Emma Mitchell, 29, from Marlow, are aiming to raise over a quarter of a million pounds for Walking with the Wounded and Breast Cancer Care before they take on their momentous challenge.
Photo credit: Coxless Crew/Facebook
The women will sleep and row in two-hour intervals for six whole months as they attempt to row 8,446 miles from America to Australia and become the first female 4s team to make the journey unsupported. Along the way they'll have to deal with sleep deprivation, injury, salt sores and sun exposure, as well as living in a confined space and facing a monotonous routine — all on a 29-foot long, seven-foot wide pink boat called Doris.
The team will share the highs and lows of their epic journey via a live tracker on their Coxless Crew website and on their social media pages.
Forget celebrities as we know them — these women are the sort of people who should be considered role models for our younger generation. They're not famous, they're not followed by paparazzi, they're not on the front row of fashion week and they're not taking over our Instagram feeds with endless selfies. What they are is proof that you can do anything you set your mind to —regardless of gender. OK, so they haven't completed their journey yet but, whatever happens, we know they're going to give it their all and that's what matters.
It's crucial that girls are aware — from a very young age — that this sort of gruelling physical challenge doesn't have to involve men. It's crucial that young boys are taught that women are doing remarkable things. And it's crucial that girls and boys learn that you can make a name for yourself, and leave your mark on the world, by stepping out of your comfort zone in a way that doesn't involve auditioning for a reality TV show.
The Coxless Crew aren't professional athletes. They all have "normal" jobs. They've trained to the limit for this challenge and it's not something everybody can achieve. But if children are taught to be determined, driven, passionate and hard-working there's no reason why it can't be something they can all aspire to.
To help the Coxless Crew reach their fundraising target text DORIS to 70300 to donate £3 or Buy A Mile of their journey for £10, which gets your name inscribed on the inside of their cabin and will help motivate the team along the way.
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