They’ve done it! Four York mums have successfully rowed across the Atlantic – and smashed into the record books as the oldest female crew to row across any ocean.
After 68 days at sea, Helen Butters, 45, Janette Benaddi, 51, Niki Doeg, 45, and Frances Davies, 47, arrived in Antigua on Thursday (February 25) after setting off from the Canary Island La Gomera on December 20.
The team, named Yorkshire Rows, were one of 26 teams rowing 3,000 miles as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – billed as the toughest rowing race on earth.
The quartet, from York and Selby, have survived a hurricane, been hit in the face by flying fish, and experienced equipment failures which left them without GPS and steering manually by compass for much of the challenge.
Dream come true
Skipper Janette said:
This race truly deserves to be called the world’s toughest row; it felt like we were battling against the ocean and we are so proud to have achieved something that we originally thought was way beyond our capabilities.
Less than 100 women have rowed an ocean and now we as four mums have added to that and achieved a world record.
What an incredible feeling to share as four best friends.
Seasickness and celebrations
Surviving on dehydrated food and no more than two hours’ sleep at a time, the crew rowed in pairs for two hours on and two hours off, often battling through debilitating seasickness and painful sores and blisters.
The crew met four years ago at York’s Guy Fawkes Boat Club and made the brave decision to enter the race over a glass of wine at the boat club dinner.
They have been raising money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) and Maggie’s, who will be opening a new cancer support centre at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds next year.
Their incredible achievement has won them fans round the world and plaudits from across Yorkshire.
Chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, Sir Gary Verity, said:
Janette, Niki, Frances and Helen have experienced a number of highs and lows while out at sea, but throughout it all they have shown true Yorkshire grit and ploughed on.
No matter what the Atlantic has thrown at them, their infectious positivity has shone through – they are an inspiration to us all.
I am so proud of them all, and would like to congratulate them on their incredible achievement.
“Everybody at Maggie’s would like to congratulate Janette, Helen, Niki and Frances on an incredible feat,” said Laura Lee, the charity’s boss.
And Paul Gowland, director of fundraising for Yorkshire Air Ambulance, said: “We couldn’t be more pleased for the ladies finishing their epic world record!
“They have done so well to complete their row and conquered some amazing challenges along the way.
“On behalf of everyone at the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, we want to send them our biggest well done and congratulations.”