In the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, the all-female team, Rowegians, have not only become the first ever Norwegian women to cross the Atlantic, but have also become the fastest Norwegians to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The team completed the epic crossing in 36 days, 9 hours and 53 minutes, beating 13 teams from 8 other countries to the finish line, just 48 hours behind the winning female Chinese team, Kung Fu Cha Cha.
Sophie Stabell (28), Camilla Bull (28), Hege Svendsberget (28) and Cornelia Bull (32) have made history. Until last Friday, only six Norwegians had successfully rowed the Atlantic and they had all been men. Preparation has been key for the Rowegians team, with a combination of 72 hour rows, yoga, boot camps, sea rescue and psychology training under their belts, they have conquered 40ft waves and battled the elements of the Atlantic as a team, to discover what they’re truly made of. Rowegians arrived in English Harbour, Antigua on 20thJanuary 2018, following their departure from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on 14th December 2017. Greeted by their family and friends, the team were welcomed with high emotions as the sun set on English Harbour after rowing 3,000 miles.
Unpon arriving in Antigua, skipper Sophie said: “This has been a dream of mine for many years and to be here in Antigua, standing next to my team that are now more like sisters, is a feeling I will never forget. We were certainly in the hands of the elements, but we felt prepared for pretty much anything, and felt liberated rather than frightened in some of our toughest moments. This was always about the adventure and we can’t quite believe what we have achieved today.”
See the girls in the video of when they touched ground in Antigua last Friday (video by Green Eye Media):
Our interview with the Rowegians
When Schibsted’s CEO Rolv Erik Ryssdal saw the first images of the four women arriving in Antigua he said: “We are very impressed by Rowegians’ achievement, and truly proud to be a sponsor of this great team.”
Allowing them to rest and recover after the long and strenuous journey, the girls were ready to answer a few questions from their friends and former colleagues in Schibsted:
How did you manage to row across the Atlantic – beating your own goal by far – in only 36 days?
“Our preparations were invaluable, in the sense that we got into routine quickly, and was able to overcome both technical issues and other obstacles in a efficient way. As weather plays a big part of this, we have had a friend of Cornelia, Olav Aleksander Bø, helping us with the weather routing. He made it possible for us to use the winds and waves in our favour. Lastly- our team! We say “a happy boat is a fast boat”, and that kind of sums it all up.”
Describe the arrival in English Harbour in Antigua on Friday 20th January.
“It’s hard to put into words. The situation was surreal, even though we´ve been going through this over and over again in our minds. Seeing our family, friends, the other rowers, and the fact that there was such an engagement around our arrival was extremely powerful. We think this is how it feels to win gold in the Olympics.”
How did your bodies feel when you stepped on firm ground and were able to walk around for the first time after being in a boat, unable to walk or use your legs, for more than a month?
“We were wobbling and walking sideways for the first two days. it was hard to regain balance.”
How do you feel right now – a few days after you finished the race?
“We are feeling much better. The days after we arrived have been chaotic, but we are slowly finding our way back to society. Our legs are also very sore, after walking on solid ground. We´ve lost a lot of muscle in our legs, but they are going more back to normal each day.”
What was the biggest challenge or lesson learned during the crossing?
“A big challenge was sleep deprivation. With all the elements, our respect for the ocean became even bigger. We never went away from putting safety first.”
Were you ever scared?
“We really put our faith into the boat. Fear was something we rationalised and tried to stay clear of as not to become irrational.”
Your trip must have been a constant exercise in adapting to adverse situations. How can that experience be transferred to other areas of life, such as interpersonal relations or work?
“Patience and hard work will get you far. Not dwelling on the small things will come in handy when dealing with all sorts of people.”
Would you do it again?
“Ask us again in a month. But for now, also considering the fact that we beat so many records, we think that this is something you do once in your life, and no more.”
When will you be back in Norway?
“In the middle of February.”
Rowing for girls’ right to education
The strong Rowegians girls wanted to use themselves as a mean to collect money for girls who are less privileged than themselves. Therefore, Rowegians supports the Right To Play’s work in Ethiopia, which focuses on helping more girls complete their education. You can read more about Right To Play here http://www.righttoplay.com/norway. From Norway, you can contribute by doing a Vipps to 95266.
Sponsors and partners
To carry out a project of this magnitude Rowegians have depended on sponsors, partners and donations, such as Schibsted, Western Bulk, Grieg, NRP and the C Ludens Ringnes trust.
See Schibsted’s official sponsorship video (made by Green Eye Media):
THE ATLANTIC CHALLENGE The Tallisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is called “The world’s toughest row”. The race starts in La Gomera, Canary Islands in December. The finish line is on the caribbean island Antigua, 3000 nautical miles / 5500km across the Atlantic. A unique, life-changing experience, each participant burns around 8,000 calories a day and loses approximately 20% of their body weight over the duration of the race. Rowing in shift patterns of two hours on, two hours off, rowers must battle sleep deprivation alongside the physical challenge. They have to work together to stay mentally strong as they spend Christmas Day and New Year’s eve away from their families during this transformational adventure, which lasts anywhere between 35-90 days. Through the hardships, they will also be privy to breathtaking moments, being close to nature, amazing sea life, and beautiful sunsets. Lisa Everingham, Global Talisker Marketing Manager, comments: “We are delighted for Rowegians and their epic, record breaking row across the Atlantic. To be able to support them in this life changing adventure and to be part of their journey has been a real privilege. We’re in awe of their dogged determination to battle on through the power of the Atlantic Ocean and we’re sure this experience will shape them for years to come. To us, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is all about supporting and bringing to life the transformational experience and journey of each rower as they immerse themselves in the elements. Our founders, the MacAskill brothers, rowed from Eigg to Skye to found Talisker Distillery in Scotland almost 200 years ago and just like our founders’ row, this challenge represents adventure, strength of character and showcases what it means to be made by the sea.”