Oarsome! Yorkshire mums head for Atlantic rowing record

The Yorkshire Rows.
The Yorkshire Rows.
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Four mothers crossing the Atlantic for charity are rowing their way towards the record books.

The Yorkshire Rows - four friends aged from 45 to 51 - will become the oldest all-women crew to row an ocean when they complete the 3,000-mile challenge.

The team, less than 150 nautical miles away from the finish line, are expected to reach Antigua on Thursday after 67 days at sea.

Niki Doeg, 45, Helen Butters, 45, Frances Davies, 47, and Janette Benaddi, 51, are one of 26 crews taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

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Since leaving La Gomera in the Canary Islands on December 20, the four women have 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.

In their latest blog post last week, Mrs Benaddi, from Burn, North Yorkshire, said an equipment failure had left them steering by hand and one rower down at all times.

She said: “I think these may be our longest days, we are so eager to get to land now and it still seems far away.”

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.

They are raising money to build a Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre in Leeds and for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance but said they were also determined to remain friends.

Speaking before they left to start the race last year, Mrs Butters, from Cawood, North Yorkshire, said: “We’ve always had the same aim. It’s more important to us to enjoy it and get to the other side than to fall out and be competitive and want to beat other people.”

And their blog confirmed that the team had achieved their aim, with Mrs Benaddi paying tribute to the “three amazing women” she is sharing the 8m by 1.5m boat with.

Mrs Benaddi described Mrs Butters as “reliable, strong, determined and a very positive influence”, Ms Doeg as “very special, kind, generous, caring and very, very safety concious” and said Ms Davies “is understanding, empathetic and has a wonderful laugh”.

She wrote: “So these are my crew, the best crew in the world that has moved us thousands of miles across this big blue ocean and the crew that makes this adventure special in my heart and soul.”

• To donate to Maggie’s go to www.justgiving.com/YorkshireRowsMaggies or text ROWS88 with an amount to 70070. To donate to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance go to www.justgiving.com/YorkshireRowsYAA or text ROWS91 with an amount to 70070.