Rower’s Atlantic challenge

A BRADFORD on Avon lettings agent has described a 3,000-mile rowing trip across the Atlantic Ocean as the toughest challenge of her life so far.

Alison Wannell was the only female member of the four-strong crew of Heads Together and Row which took part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2018.

The team crossed the finish line in Antigua on Friday, February 1 after 50 days, 22 hours and 38 minutes at sea.

Miss Wannell, 40, arrived home on Thursday (Feb 14). She said: “It was definitely the toughest challenge that I have ever done but it was an amazing experience.

“It was mentally and physically very tough but a real privilege to be out in the middle of the Atlantic.”

Miss Wannell, of Church Street, completed the crossing from the Canary Islands to Antigua with Toby Gould, 39, from Croydon, Jeremy Reynolds, 41, from Teddington and Justin Coleman, 53, from Leicestershire.

Although they finished faster than the previous world record, which was 56 days for a mixed-fours crossing, another fours crew finished a few days before them, so they missed out on setting a new world record.

“But we were the first mixed crew to finish in a Pure boat rather than a Concept boat, which has a larger cabin area, so I think we can claim at least one world record.”

The crew came 17th out of the 27 teams left in the challenge. Twenty-eight teams started the race but one crew dropped out early on.

A keen rower since studying at the University of Canterbury, Alison was working for Kingstons estate agents before giving up her job to focus on the challenge.

She says the members of the Heads Together and Row team supported each other to the finish. “There were a few tears and we each had our down days but we managed to get through it.”

The crew has raised funds and awareness for the Heads Together campaign for mental health charities Mind and Combat Stress, and the Marine Conservation Society.

They are the focus of academic research by Henley Business School at the University of Reading into individual and team resilience.

The study has included regular video diaries while they were at sea and will be published later this year.

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