Yorkshire mums take on toughest rowing race on Earth

The Yorkshire Rows team Helen Butters, 45, Janette Benaddi, 51, Niki Doeg, 44, and Frances Davies, 47 are racing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to Antigua, in the Caribbean, as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

The mammoth challenge will take the quartet between five to ten weeks to complete and will see them battle 30ft waves, sharks, exhaustion, sleep deprivation and sea-sickness, as well as chafing in all manner of places.

Christmas and New Year will also be spent away from their families, with pineapple chunks and tinned sardines replacing the traditional Christmas dinner.

Hailing from York and Selby, the team met four years ago at York’s Guy Fawkes Boat Club and made the brave decision to enter the race over a glass of wine at the boat club dinner.

Since then, they have spent the past two years juggling both physical and mental training with their full-time jobs and busy family lives, with two children each.

With just two weeks left until the biggest challenge of their lives, the team said a final goodbye to their families at Manchester Airport today as they flew out to La Gomera for last minute preparations before the race starts on December 15.

The team is hoping to raise more than £100,000, which will be split between the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) and Maggie’s cancer centres who hope to open a new support centre in Leeds in 2017.

Helen Butters, a communications expert in the NHS, said:

“This row to me is about empowerment – showing that ordinary women can achieve extraordinary things with hard work and determination. It has been an intense two years of planning and organising and it will be a doubly intense two months with no sleep and rowing continuously on an ocean that really scares me – but this challenge will have a huge impact and make a difference to so many people’s lives. We never expected this much support and we really just want to get in the boat and do it now.”

Maggie’s Chief Executive, Laura Lee added:

“I’d like to say a big thank you to the Yorkshire Rows team for choosing to sign up to this incredible challenge. The team’s fundraising efforts will make a huge difference in helping us to build the new centre at St James’s University Hospital. We wish them the best of luck when they start the challenge in December.”

Paul Gowland, Director of Fundraising at YAA said:

“We wish the Yorkshire Rows team every success for what is an unbelievable challenge. It shows an amazing amount of strength that whilst these brave ladies are rowing across the Atlantic, they are thinking of others and helping to save lives across Yorkshire. Our very best wishes are with them and we are grateful they are supporting the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.”

Welcome to Yorkshire is supporting the team throughout their challenge.

Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive said:

“The Yorkshire Rows are an inspiration to us all and prove that if you put your mind to something anything is possible. We’re proud to be supporting the Yorkshire Rows during their incredible challenge and we wish them the very best of luck – we will be with them every stroke of the way!”

The team will be writing a regular blog documenting their journey. To follow their progress visit blog.mailasail.com/yr

To follow the race live, download the Yellow Brick Race Viewer app available for both iPhone and Android. For more information visit www.ybtracking.com