Four mothers from Yorkshire who set a new Guinness world record as the oldest all-female crew to row across an ocean have described their pride in completing the feat.
Clinical researcher Janette Benaddi, 51, solicitor Frances Davies, 47, entrepreneur Niki Doeg, who celebrated her 46th birthday on the water, and NHS communications expert Helen Butters, 45, took just over two months to complete the 3,000-mile Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.
They arrived in English Harbour, Antigua, on Thursday, 67 days and five hours after leaving La Gomera in the Canary Islands on December 20.
Skipper Mrs Benaddi said: “It feels like a dream to have arrived. 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.”
The crew, who became friends after meeting on the school run, encountered a hurricane, power failures, attacks from flying fish, seasickness and injuries to complete the endurance challenge.
They also made headlines when they revealed they had to row naked after running out of clean clothes.
An equipment failure left them steering by hand and one rower down at all times, further hampering their progress.
But they were greeted by hundreds of onlookers as they took their emotional first steps on dry land in nearly ten weeks, including members of their families who had flown from the UK to meet them at the finish line.
The women all had to fit in their training alongside working full time and stocked up their freezers with family meals before setting off. Their local village of Burn in North Yorkshire is expected to mark their return with Christmas lights.
Yorkshire Rows are raising money to build a Maggie’s cancer caring centre in Leeds as well as for Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
Paul Gowland, from Yorkshire Air Ambulance, said: “We are absolutely in awe of the Yorkshire Rows ladies and are eagerly following their fantastic progress.
“It’s a real honour for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance to have been chosen as one of two charities to benefit from the Yorkshire Rows challenge and not only are we grateful to Janette, Helen, Niki and Frances but we are grateful to everyone that has donated to our cause through the ladies’ challenge.”
Laura Lee, chief executive at Maggie’s, said: “We have been following their progress and are extremely thankful to the Yorkshire Rows team for raising money to support Maggie’s and help us to build a new centre at St James University Hospital, where we will be able to offer our unique programme of practical, emotional and social support to those affected by cancer in Yorkshire and their friends and family.”
Some 26 teams started the race, which has seen competitors battle tropical storms and arduous physical conditions.
British foursome Ocean Reunion smashed the race record to come home in just 37 days.