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NEWS > Alumnae News > Nearly Under Starter's Orders

Nearly Under Starter's Orders

On Sunday (12 December) two of our intrepid alumnae will make their bid for the history books as the starting pistol sounds on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2021 in La Gomera, Canary Islands.

Abby Johnston, Class of 2007, and Charlotte Irving, Class of 2008, have teamed up with their friend Kat Cordiner to form Team ExtraOARdinary. Together they are attempting to break the world record for the fastest all-female trio to row across the mighty Atlantic.

The record for the 3,000-mile race, one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges, currently stands at 49 days, 13 hours, and 49 minutes.  So, if they are to hit their target, they will need to cross the finish line in Antigua by the end of January.

“We’re raring to go,” says 31-year-old Abby who works as the Lead Senior Squad Rowing Coach at LEH. “We’ve all been training to do this for months, so we’re fit and really well prepared.  It’s going to be a challenge, but we can’t wait to get going now.”

Sleep deprivation, salt sores, hunger and the ultimate test of body and mind will be balanced by the sight of incredible marine life, witnessing breath-taking dawn and sunsets, plus the unbreakable camaraderie of such an epic undertaking. They are the living embodiment of the LEH motto – Hope Favours the Bold.

The crew will be living on board the Dolly Parton, their 23-foot rowing boat, for up to two months, taking turns to row two hours on and two hours off, 24-7.  They will battle storms, 25-foot waves, and a lack of home comforts, as they face the dangers of potential equipment failure, marlin and shark attacks, shipping lanes and possible capsize.

The bold trio will be motivated by their goal of raising money to turn the tide on cancer. They are hoping to hit their fundraising target of £50,000 to be split between three cancer charities – Cancer Research UK, MacMillan Cancer Support and the Royal Marsden.  To show your support and donate, please click here.

Kat was diagnosed with cervical cancer in March 2019 and has now been told that its incurable, although she is currently in remission.  She says: “The doctors have told me that I don’t have decades, I have years, so I really want to make the most of them.  I don’t want to muck around doing stuff that doesn’t matter.”

Dolly Parton has passed all her pre-race inspections with flying colours and has now been lifted into the marina ready to set off at the weekend. While packing her up the crew discovered that all their chocolate bars, to keep energy levels and spirits high, have melted already. They will take part in the epic challenge alongside 36 other crews.

We will be keeping you updated on their progress once the race gets underway, but you can also follow them on Instagram: @weareextraoardinary or on their website: weareextraoardinary.com.

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