A team of seven Island-based women are ready for a challenge they have been training for since October 2012. Despite setbacks in recent weeks ‘The Wight Crew’ are ready for their Channel Challenge.
Adverse weather conditions stopped their first attempt in June, then a week before their new departure date, the Isle of Wight team were informed the French Authorities had reinforced an existing law prohibiting ‘man propelled vessels’ crossing into French water.
Not to be deterred, tomorrow (Friday 5th July) The Wight Crew will depart from Dover and row a longer course totalling 25 miles across Dover’s busy shipping lanes to a marker buoy in the middle of the English Channel and then back to Dover for the finish line, in a 34 foot fixed seat Waterman Cutter rowing boat.
The team have trained out of Newport Rowing Club in what has been one of the coldest UK winters for many years for the row across the English Channel. Along with many hours in the boat the team have also so far raised over £25,000 for their chosen charities Ahoy and The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. Many people across the Island have supported the team, including teachers at Ryde School making pancakes to raise funds, maypole dancing by the pupils at Fiveways and Rob da bank playing a set at a fundraising evening back in March that raised £17,000.
Training the team has been 73 year old Gordon Groves from Newport Rowing Club, a veteran of the sport with nearly 60 years rowing experience. He has been coaching the team twice a week for the past 8 months and explained their progress. “When they started they were rubbish, none of them had ever rowed before. But I’m really pleased with their progress and think they should complete the course in 5-6 hours, weather and shipping dependent.”
Despite the team’s recent setbacks team member Vicki Haworth, a Psychiatric Ward Sister at St Mary’s Hospital explained the team were still very much up for the challenge.
“We have been training hard and often in very tough conditions. We have all struggled at times from various injuries, mainly our backs but also blisters on our hands and some skin loss in a delicate area. To complete this challenge at all will be a fantastic achievement for us all and the setbacks have just made us more determined to complete the challenge in a good time!”
The Wight Crew are Dee Oswald, Rowan Middleton-Leal, Sam Hampton, Vicki Haworth, Caroline Death, Bonnie Williams and Jo Grindley The oldest team member, Dee, is 51, and the youngest, Bonnie, 26. One team member can’t swim, three suffer from sea sickness. Six out of the seven are mums. None had any rowing experience when they took on the challenge last year.
You can follow the team’s progress on the day via live tracking from the boat http://www.mytrackingpanel.com/tracking/default.aspx?accountref=theahoycentre
Follow the team’s progress on www.facebook.com/ChannelRow2013
And donate via www.justgiving.com/channelrow2013