Atlantic rowing race attracts women
A trans-Atlantic rowing race considered the toughest of its kind in the world has created a class specifically for women following a surge in interest.
Three all-female crews are due to line up for the start of the Talisker Atlantic Challenge in the Canary Islands in December, before spending weeks at sea as they battle sickness, cabin fever and punishing conditions during a 3,000-mile row to Antigua.
The event, held every two years, has previously seen women compete alongside their male counterparts.
In 2014, students Hannah Lawton, 25, of Worcester, and Lauren Morton, 24, of Stoke-on-Trent, had to abandon their attempt after a gruelling 96 days at sea. The pair, competing under the team name Inspirational Friends, were taking part in the c hallenge in memory of a friend who died of cervical cancer.
Ms Morton, who recently competed in television show The Island with Bear Grylls, is due to re-enter this year's event as part of team Row Like A Girl, alongside friends Bella Collins and Gee Purdy from London, and Olivia Bolesworth from Chichester.
Foursome Atlantic Endeavour includes Sarah Hornby from Dorset, Becky Charlton from Guernsey, Charlotte Best from Warwickshire and Kate Hallam from Ealing in west London.
The third team, Yorkshire Row, comprises four mothers from the north of England.
Carsten Heron Olsen, from organisers Atlantic Campaigns, said: "The increase in female participants in this year's race is testament to the bravery and tenaciousness of our competitors.
"The Talisker Atlantic Challenge is the world's toughest row and we're proud to have the first ever female ocean rowing class part of our race."
Teams row in patterns of two hours on and two hours off, battling ferocious storms, sleep deprivation, 40ft waves and psychological stress. Their ocean rowing boat is a 7m-long by 2m-wide space, with little shelter from the elements.
Talisker brand manager Lucy Pritchard said: "We are in awe of these competitors. We wish them all the best for the race in December."