|13 May 2021
Charlotte Irving, Class of 2008, and Abby Johnston, Class of 2007, along with teammate Kat Cordiner, who call themselves team ExtraOARdinary, have been hard at work continuing their preparations to take them to the start line of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2021, renowned as the world’s toughest row.
The team has spent the majority of the past year training in makeshift gyms in their living rooms and lean-tos, planning, studying and dreaming of the day they could finally get out on the water. And last weekend, their dream became a reality.
They headed to Burnham-on-Crouch, the home of ocean rowing, to take ownership of the high-tech boat Dolly Parton. The handover was done with the Atlantic Antics, the three-strong team of women who rowed Dolly in last year’s Atlantic Challenge.
The Atlantic Antics talked the ExtraOARdinary crew through every detail of the boat and explained all of the equipment on board. From water-makers to solar panels, and life rafts to para-anchors, everything the women need for an ocean crossing is aboard Dolly Parton and ready to go.
The Atlantic Antics also shared many invaluable tips for a successful race, including how to avoid getting salt sores on your bum and how to work the shift pattern for a three-person crew. They also let the ExtraOARdinary crew know which dried food meals to avoid at all costs and which snacks helped boost morale on their 52-day row - apparently hula-hoops are essential!
Each team has to complete a total of 120 hours on the water as part of the qualifying rules for the race, and so, armed with a shiny new (second-hand) boat and some oars, the girls took to the water for their first training row at Burnham-on-Crouch last weekend.
The team enlisted the help of ocean rower Rob Hamilton to help them get to grips with Dolly and Rob talked them through some of the various skills required to row across an ocean, including using the GPS and auto-helm, and how to deploy an anchor. The crew also used the weekend as an opportunity to test out their cosy new sleeping arrangements in the tiny bow and stern cabins, which might take some getting used to (see photo below).
With 12 hours of rowing ticked off the list, the ExtraOARdinary crew only have a mere 108 left to go and will be getting out on the water as much as possible in the coming months.
Alongside all of their training, the women are still pushing to raise funds for their campaign and are currently selling different pieces of merchandise on their website, and also have a Charity Ball planned for September. Details of how to buy tickets for this will be released on the website in the coming weeks: https://www.weareextraoardinary.com/.
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