Sarah Weldon with Olympic rower Debbie Flood Pic: Fourbirdsaboating

A Henley novice rower is a member of a four women crew planning to tackle one of the toughest ocean challenges.

The four teachers will tackle the world’s first Pacific Ocean rowing race next year which involves rowing over 7200 nautical miles from California to Hawaii. Then setting off alone and unsupported from Hawaii to Australia.

Sarah Weldon told the Henley Standard: “I do have moments when I think, ‘my God, what am I doing?’ There’s a lot of responsibility and a lot of people have invested and put their faith in us — I’ve really put myself on the line and don’t want to let them down.

“In other ways, it feels like it’s my calling and I’m doing something I feel so passionately about. I’m very honoured to be doing this job and to have met those children. It’s all about how it’s going to help them.”

During the journey, the Fourbirdsaboating team will contact young people around the world via the internet and will visit as many schools as they can during the expedition.

Funds raised will provide computers and educational materials to 300 schools, orphanages, and youth groups worldwide. The boat itself is named 'Mr Toad' after the classic children's story 'The Wind in the Willows.

The event will be the world’s longest and toughest rowing race. The women's crew will be rowing the boat 24 hours a day for up to 230 days, for two hours on and 2 hours off. The team will use over 8000 calories each per day.

The journey is likely to take around 8 months, with the girls living in a confined space facing 30-50 foot high waves and tornadoes, and the ever present risk of being swept overboard as they spend an average of 12 hours per day rowing in shifts of two hours at the oars and two hours resting.

The Fourbirdsaboating will be totally reliant on the energy of the sun to turn sea water into drinking water. This will replace lost fluid through exercise and the heat, and will be essential for re-hydrating their sachet food and for washing the boat and themselves to keep them working efficiently.

Three of the girls have never rowed before and none of them have undertaken an endurance challenge on this scale but they are being supported by GB Olympic Rower and Leander Club
Captain Debbie Flood.

 Find out more about the bid on their Facebook page

And more about the New Ocean Wave race here

Story dated March 26th 2013

J Sutton

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