Having begun their journey from San Francisco on 20th April 2015, The Coxless Crew have reached Samoa, the second stop on their incredible challenge to row 8,446 miles to Cairns, Australia.
The Coxless Crew aim to be the first ever female team and first ever team in a four-person boat to row the Pacific. With three seats in the boat being held continuously by Natalia Cohen (40), Laura Penhual (32) and Emma Mitchell (30), the fourth space is rowed as a relay with Lizanne van Vuuren (26) currently on the oars.
Their team’s Pacific Ocean row is a huge endurance adventure, with 2 hours on the oars and 2 hours off 24 hours a day, testing the team’s mental and physical capabilities to the full. They burn over 5,000 calories a day and endure sea sickness, physical and mental exhaustion. During the row the women live by the mantra eat, sleep, row, repeat – all while at the mercy of the world’s largest ocean.
The Crew had been due to arrive in Samoa at the end of August but have suffered setbacks due to battling through the nautical Doldrums in the ITCZ area (Intertropical Convergence Zone) of the Pacific – a notoriously difficult patch of ocean. Although the team allowed an extra 10 – 15% of food provisions on board, they are currently eating rations and at their current progress pace their food would have run out approximately two days after their arrival into Samoa on 1st November (six weeks later then planned).
From Samoa, the team will head to Cairns, their final stop. The journey will see the Coxless Crew cover 2810 miles and will take them around 60 days, but the setbacks experienced on leg 2 of their journey mean that the women will now spend Christmas and New Year on board ‘Doris’ the boat – arriving into Cairns early January.
Despite the struggles of the journey, the team remain upbeat and have even made friends along the way – from passing shipping boats to ‘Fernando’ the shark who has been tracking the boat. Being out in the heat the women have developed rather odd suntan lines as they are always seated to row when outdoors, and have taken to cooking pancakes using the heat of the sun on deck and flipping them with a Coxless Crew postcard!
The women are rowing to raise both funds and awareness for Walking With The Wounded and Breast Cancer Care, and have the backing and support of their Patron, pop star Kylie Minogue, who has beaten breast cancer herself.
Upon hearing of the women’s struggle on the second leg of their row, Kylie recorded a special message of encouragement for the women, saying: “You’ve been six months at sea which is just mind-blowing. I know you’ve reached a point in your journey that is particularly challenging and I want you to know I’m right behind you […] Dig deep – Cairns is waiting for you on your final push. We send you lots of love […] Well done girls!”
Prior to departure, 32 year old Laura Penhaul from London said: “Kylie is an inspiration. A few years ago she overcame her own Pacific when she was diagnosed with and later overcame breast cancer. Every year, roughly 50,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and one in every eight women will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime.”
Penhaul continued: “The pain that we will endure in doing battle with the Pacific, is nothing in comparison to that which those diagnosed with cancer face on a day-to-day basis. We hope that this row draws attention to the disease and encourages women to get screened and check themselves regularly as early detection can dramatically help survival rates.”
This is certainly a Pacific Crossing of a different kind – you can follow their journey and progress via a live tracker on their website www.coxlesscrew.com or Facebook/Twitter Page and share in the highs and lows of their arduous and epic expedition that lies ahead.
Donate to the crew’s charities Walking With The Wounded and Breast Cancer Care at www.coxlesscrew.com/charities or text DORIS to 70300 to donate £3
MEET THE TEAM:
Laura Penhaul, 32, from Cornwall originally, now lives and works in London. Laura is the Lead Physiotherapist for British Paralympics Athletics. She is keen marathon runner, cyclist and tri-athlete.
Emma Mitchell, 30, from Marlow in Buckinghamshire. Emma is an Expedition Manager, a keen marathon runner and rower and ex-Cambridge Blue.
Natalia Cohen, 40, is currently based in London. Natalia is an Adventure Tour Leader, Travel Operations Manager and Photographer. She has already crossed a section of the Pacific as part of a crew in a small yacht.
Isabel Burnham, 30, from Saffron Walden, Nr Cambridge. Isabel is a Solicitor, a keen mountaineer, runner, trekker, skier and rower. (1st leg)
Lizanne van Vuuren, 26, South African, grew up in Newbury, UK. Lizanne moved to Cape Town four years ago where she practices as an Osteopath. She is a keen swimmer, runner and cyclist or generally anything done outdoors. (2nd leg)
Meg Dyos, 24 lives in and works in London. She is an English Literature graduate, and currently an Estate Agent. She is a hummus connoisseur, lover of cycling, yoga and life. (3rd leg)