Former Ilkeston woman aims to smash Atlantic rowing record

A former Ilkeston woman will join two friends in a race to become the youngest and fastest women rowers to cross the Atlantic.

Tuesday, 24th November 2020, 4:41 pm
Hannh Walton, Florence Ward and Georgie Leech are bidding to be the youngest and fastest women to row the Atlantic.
Hannh Walton, Florence Ward and Georgie Leech are bidding to be the youngest and fastest women to row the Atlantic.

Geography teacher Hannah Walton, 27, has teamed up with Florence Ward and Georgie Leech to compete in the world’s toughest row, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Launching at La Gomera on the Canary Islands on December 12, the 3,000-mile route to Antigua will take them between 45 to 60 days to complete. The current female trio record is 49 days.

Their team, the Atlantic Antics, is the only trio among 21 teams of rowers competing in this year’s challenge and the fourth trio of women to attempt the annual race.

The Atlantic Antics team members will row an eight-metre long, two-metre wide boat with only two small cabins for protection.

During the crossing they are set to encounter 20ft sea swells, blisters, salt sores, extreme weather conditions, hunger and exhaustion rowing for 14 hours per day.

Water will be pumped from the sea and filtered into fresh water, being powered by solar panels on the boat.

Hannah, who grew up in Cossall and now teaches in London, said: “There are lots of external factors that will affect our speed, weather being one of the largest, but we're confident that we've put in the training and planning for us to complete this crossing to the best of our abilities.

“It’s been two years of hard work and preparation but we’re glad that we’ve finally made it to the start line of this incredible race. We’re looking forward to the challenge.

"We know that Dolly Parton (our boat) will keep us safe and that we’re about to make some of the best memories of our lives whilst raising money for our two charities.”

Atlantic Antics is using the challenge to raise money for Women in Sport and Rowing Together For Healthy Minds. Hannah said: “We hope to inspire other women to get involved in sport at any level and find something that they enjoy as much as we do. For all three of us rowing has played a key role in keeping our minds healthy.”

The pals learned to row while at university, Hannah and data analyst Florence, 27, were students at Bristol and freelance designer Georgie, 24, studied in Lincoln.