Exeter, England-based friends Kirsty Barker, 28; Kate Salmon, 31; Rosalind West, 36; and Laura Try, 36, known as team Row for the Ocean, are taking on a lifechanging elemental adventure this December, all in the name of plastic.
The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge will see the team race across the Atlantic against 30 other teams from all over the world. Starting at La Gomera in the Canary Islands, the foursome will row 3,000 miles across the ocean, whilst battling up to 40-foot waves to finish in Antigua in the Caribbean.
Row for the Ocean began in 2016, when three of the crew members, Barker, Salmon and West, became friends through Exeter Rowing Club. During their time training together, they realized their collective backgrounds would make them strong contenders in the race, and after meeting Try at an ocean rowing conference in 2017, their team was complete.
The team is taking on the adventure to help raise money and awareness for Surfers Against Sewage. The money raised will help the charity to invest in protecting and cleaning up the ocean environment, making sure it can be enjoyed by generations to come.
Alongside this, the friends are campaigning to turn Exeter into one of the U.K.’s first plastic-free cities, drastically reducing the amount of single-use plastics. Finally, during their outdoor training sessions, they are proactively collecting any rubbish they find around the coastline, contributing to their plastic-free legacy.
Barker, who grew up near the sea in Somerset, has had an interest in the outdoors from an early age; in contrast to Try, who only took up rowing as she approached age 30 and has recently completed a 1,800 mile row around Great Britain’s coastline. Barker studied oceans for more than seven years, researching oceanography at university and is now a scientific consultant for the Metropolitan Office. Finally, West is a physiotherapist who has been a keen rower since attending University of the West of England and spends much of her spare time by the sea, seeing first-hand the effects of plastics and rubbish on the coastlines and shores.
“We feel extremely lucky to be able to take on this amazing adventure and simultaneously give back to the environment, which is a huge passion of ours,” said Barker in a statement. “The race will really allow us to disconnect from our everyday routines and be at one with nature and the elements, as we work with the ocean to finish the race as fast as we can. We’re looking forward to the unique experiences we’ll face whilst at sea, and we’re hoping to come back even more inspired to continue our hard work protecting coastlines from plastic pollution.”
Alongside the physical challenge, the team will have to work together to stay mentally strong as they spend Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve away from their families during this journey, which usually lasts anywhere between 30 and 90 days. Those interested can track the progress of teams in the race here.