Sunday 4 December 2016

Ocean's Four? Hollywood hint from Yorkshirewomen who rowed across the Atlantic

Published 07/03/2016 | 09:06

The Yorkshire Rows team of Janette Benaddi, Frances Davies, Niki Doeg and Helen Butters, who set a new world record as the oldest all-female crew to row across an ocean (Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge/PA)
The Yorkshire Rows team of Janette Benaddi, Frances Davies, Niki Doeg and Helen Butters, who set a new world record as the oldest all-female crew to row across an ocean (Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge/PA)

Four working mothers who became record breakers when they rowed across the Atlantic have joked about which Hollywood actors could star in a film of their 67-day challenge.

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Helen Butters, Janette Benaddi, Frances Davies and Niki Doeg received a heroes' welcome on their return to their home county of Yorkshire after completing the 3,000-mile race in February.

The four friends - known as the Yorkshire Rows - became the oldest women to row across an ocean when they crossed the finish line of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in Antigua.

The women, who all have children at the same school and became friends after taking up rowing at a club in York, formed the plan to take part in the race around three years ago at a boat club dinner.

During their 67 days at sea, the team encountered a hurricane, power failures, attacks from flying fish, seasickness and injuries.

They also revealed they had to row naked after running out of clean clothes and said an equipment failure had left them steering by hand and one rower down at all times.

Speaking in Leeds on Monday, Benaddi, 51, hinted that their story could be made into a film, saying: "Watch this space."

Benaddi and Butters joked that they wanted Renee Zellwegger and Kate Winslet to play them but said they would have to master a Yorkshire accent first.

The pair said an earlier error which resulted in a clip of Butters naked from the waist down being shown to viewers of BBC Breakfast was "not a big deal".

Butters, 45, from Cawood, North Yorkshire, said all ocean rowers row naked for comfort and suggested that people should focus more on the achievement of the team.

She said: " We were ocean rowers being naked, we were naked most of the time and that's just how it is basically.

"That's just how it is for all the teams - we're not unusual."

Benaddi, from Burn, North Yorkshire, said: "We've rowed an ocean, what is it if something's shown on TV? It's not a big deal, is it?"

Laughing, Benaddi then hugged Butters and added: "Because it wasn't me, it was you. Helen's cool with it."

The team, who were raising money to build a Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre in Leeds and for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, said they were still friends after the race.

Benaddi said: "We totally nailed the ocean and totally nailed the friendship thing."

When asked what items they would take with them if they were to do the race again, Benaddi said more chocolate, Doeg, 45, said more letters from home, Davies, 47, said song sheets and Butters said she would take her children.

Mother-of-two Butters said she hoped she would inspire her own, and other children, by completing the race and said she thought her own children would take part in the challenge when they turn 18.

She said: "It was just such an amazing experience, I would have liked to have shared it with them."

Speaking about the "positivity and can-do mentality" of the other teams who took part in the race, she added: "For me, I just wanted to pass that on to (my children) so whatever they do, they have that same mentality.

"As children, as they get older they can get negative. We just want to do a lot of work with schools and children and coach them at that early age to say if ordinary mums like us can do this, you can do anything."

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