Row for freedom

Last Updated: 24/01/12 4:30pm

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Row for Freedom are savouring being back on dry land for the first time since early December after they rowed across the Atlantic ocean.

The team stormed into the record books becoming the first five-woman team to row any ocean in the world and they broke the record for rowing the Atlantic in the fastest time by an all-female crew.

Family and friends were there to cheer them into the Port St Charles Marina, Barbados 45 days and 2,613 nautical miles after leaving the Canary Islands.

Team had to deal with plenty of setback including losing their skipper the day before they were meant to set off, problems with their steering and crucially their water maker going on the blink. For Helen Leigh seasickness was the least of their worries.

"I'm a Northern girl - too hard, joked Helen.

"We really wanted that world record and did not want to stop so we just threw up and carried on, threw up and carried on. At day 30 I said enough throwing up!"

"The hand pump going on the water maker was pretty serious because it did not produce enough water so it meant that we could not sleep. We had to do our rowing shift and then go and pump water. We also had a lot of our hatches flooding so we lost a lot of our food."

The world record holders admitted to have some serious doubt when the first started, but their team work and their pledge to stop human trafficking drove them on.

"For the first two weeks I was wondering what the heck we were doing because it was so tough," said Julia Immonen

"There was hardly any sunshine and we would have these waves crashing down on us. You would go to bed in your wet weather gear just completely drenched. But to get the world record and for what it all stands for makes it all worth it in the end. I can really see how it can become addictive.

Against all the odds we have really conquered it we are really passionate about promoting women's sport too.

"Now there are five strong women who have managed to cross an ocean together who are still talking to each other at the end of it. If that can inspire more women to take up sport then I will be pleased."

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