Belfast Telegraph

Kate to be all at sea for Christmas

A Co Armagh woman will be all at sea this Christmas as she spends the festive season on the open waves.

Kate Richardson, 22, from Portadown is in the middle of an epic charity challenge to row across the Atlantic Ocean.

Kate, vice captain of Portadown hockey club, is the only Northern Ireland representative in a crew of five women trying to bridge the 3,000 miles from the Canary Islands to Barbados in a 21-foot boat.

As well as attempting to break the world record of 52 days for an unaided crossing by an all-female crew, their "Row For Freedom" is about raising awareness of human trafficking and money for associated charities.

Their boat Guardian is one of 17 that set off in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and Kate said they have made good progress in their first 16 days at sea.

In spite of leaving almost 48 hours after the other boats following the late withdrawal from the expedition of their skipper, the crew currently lie seventh, having passed the 1,000 mile mark after 10 days. One other craft has capsized and sunk, requiring the crew to be rescued by an ocean cruise liner.

Kate, who had not rowed before committing to the challenge, and her team row on a two-hours-on, two-hours-off shift basis.

"Nothing can quite prepare you for the vastness of the ocean and we're rowing in darkness for more than 14 hours a day," she said. "We've been getting 30-40 foot waves at times and that's particularly petrifying at night when you can't really see anything but just hear the roar coming closer and closer."

If Kate reaches Barbados she will be the first woman from the island of Ireland to successfully complete the Atlantic challenge.

Visit www.rowforfreedom.com - or the race website at www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com - for more information.

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