Saturday 21 April 2018

Yorkshire mothers bare all on Atlantic rowing challenge

The Yorkshire Rows have passed the halfway stage in their Atlantic challenge
The Yorkshire Rows have passed the halfway stage in their Atlantic challenge

Four working mothers attempting to row 3000-miles across the Atlantic have revealed they are rowing naked after running out of clean clothes.

The Yorkshire Rows - four friends whose ages range from 45 to 51 - have passed the halfway mark in their challenge and now have less than 1,300 nautical miles to row until they reach the finish line in Antigua.

Niki Doeg, 45, Helen Butters, 45, Frances Davies, 47, and Janette Benaddi, 51, are one of 26 teams taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and are aiming to become the oldest all-women crew to row an ocean.

The team - who have faced a hurricane, attacks from flying fish and power failures - described their boat as being "like a nudist camp".

Writing in their blog, Mrs Benaddi, from Burn, North Yorkshire, said: "T hings are starting to get a little smelly. We have no clean clothes to wear (didn't bring much anyway), alas we are naked. It's good for our skin and also when waves hit we dry quick.

"It's like a nudist camp on this boat (of course we wouldn't know what that is like but can imagine)."

She added: " We have not washed our hair now for four weeks since leaving land. Personal hygiene consists of a wash down with baby wipes and application of surgical spirit to our behinds and hands after each shift and that's it."

During their month at sea, the women have encountered Hurricane Alex and suffered a power failure, which left them steering by hand, using a compass and manually converting sea water into drinking water.

Mrs Butters, from Cawood, North Yorkshire, suffered from seasickness and Ms Doeg, who celebrated her 45th birthday on the boat, developed an infected fingernail, a pressure sore and a bruised coccyx following a fall.

But they described rowing with a whale and a pod of dolphins as "amazing".

The women, each a mother-of-two, said it was hard being away from their families and thanked them for their support.

Mrs Butters, whose daughter Lucy celebrated her 16th birthday last week, said her aim was to be back home by the February half-term school holiday.

" We are all really happy to have passed the halfway mark and we are all still in really high spirits. We are basically just rowing, eating and sleeping. It is hard, especially not seeing our families, but we knew it was going to be tough," she said.

" We have all been inspired by each other, and are so much closer than we were before. We really can't wait to see our families in Antigua and are really going to appreciate things a bit more - I think in that sense it will change our lives."

The team are raising money to build a Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre in Leeds and for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

:: To donate to Maggie's go to or text ROWS88 with an amount to 70070. To donate to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance go to or text ROWS91 with an amount to 70070.

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