CAIRNS, Australia – Four young ladies departed San Francisco in April 2015, rowing 8,446 miles across the Pacific Ocean arriving today in Cairns. Their journey across the Pacific set three world records:
• The first all-female team to row the Pacific Ocean
• The first ever 4s boat to row the Pacific Ocean
• Fastest 4s boat to cross the Pacific
Fiona McFarlane, representing both Skal International and IIPT was on shore to greet the Coxless Crew on their arrival. “I met these amazing girls this morning and I’m sure they were very glad to finally be on dry land judging by the huge smiles on their faces. It was a very emotional arrival not only for the girls and their families but also for those that witnessed it.”
In her letter of Congratulations shown in the adjacent photo together with the welcome of Skal International, Gail Parsonage, President, IIPT Australia, congratulated the Coxless Crew for their epic journey and welcomed them to Australia. “Your tenacity, endurance and courage is an inspiration to all. May your success and accomplishment be acknowledged and applauded by all who have witnessed your perseverance, commitment and heroism.”
Members of the Coxless Crew, Laura Penhaul, Emma Mitchell, Natalia Cohen, and Isabel Burnham, expressed their gratitude to those who helped them become the first team of four to row across the Pacific Ocean. They battled the ocean and the elements on their 236-day ocean voyage from San Francisco to Cairns, making landfall only twice to restock supplies.
Their motivation for making the journey was to inspire women globally to follow their dreams and to raise awareness and essential funds for their chosen charities – Walking With The Wounded and Breast Cancer Care.
“This was an overwhelming experience and an overwhelming arrival that we had really not expected,” Laura Penhaul said. “It’s been a long slog but it’s great to be here at the finish line as true friends.”
“It’s actually really strange to know that this is the final time that we’re going to be on water,” Natalia Cohen said. “It’s a little bit sad in a way but I think we’re all quite elated at the same time.”
Their home for the last 10 months, a 29-foot, bright pink, ocean rowing boat named Doris, weighs close to a ton but only has 2 cabins — one of which was usually so full of supplies it was unable to be used. The tiny cabin was the only retreat the women had from the elements, but also from each other.
“We’d spend 2 hours rowing and then we’d go into this tiny capsule which was about the size of a cozy 2-man tent,” Emma Mitchell said. “In that space, we had to keep all our stuff; we had to eat, sleep, do our washing. It’s our laundry, our kitchen, our dining room — kind of everything really.
“It was quite hard to be in there without touching someone else and it was very hot and very sweaty, especially in big waves where we had to keep all the hatches closed all the time.
“It’s strange. There is a kind of numbness for most of us at the moment. We need some time to assess how we’re feeling, reflect on what has just happened and re-adjust to being back on land and away from our usual oceanic environment. There are sounds, smells, people and so much visual stimulation everywhere here on land. Our heads feel heavy with tiredness, our legs are stiff and painful as they are getting used to a walking motion again, our callused hands feel hard and rough and all our salt sores are itchy as they begin drying out.
“We will all be spending a few days’ quality time with our respective families and then re-uniting as a team before flying back to the UK. We have been blown away by the friendliness of everyone we have come across and the endless support we have received since we arrived.”