First-time rowers set for 3,000-mile adventure across Atlantic

Sabrina Faith and Leanne Maiden are planning to row from La Gomera in the Canaries to Antigua in the Caribbean in December.

Atlantic Challenge: New rowers backed by Wolfcraig Distillers for 3,000-mile ocean adventure PA Media

Two friends who had never rowed before are preparing to cross the Atlantic later this year in an endurance race.

Sabrina Faith and Leanne Maiden met online in lockdown when looking for a new challenge and are now training to row 3,000 miles from La Gomera in the Canaries to Antigua in the Caribbean in December.

There are no stops during the Atlantic Challenge race and the duo will rotate between rowing, eating and sleeping for the duration of the journey, which is expected to be at least 60 days.

The pair will row two hours on, two hours off, facing sleep deprivation, salt sores, physical extremes and the psychological challenges of the open ocean.

They will be raising money for three charities: The Polar Academy UK, The Women’s Fund for Scotland, and The Mabel Foundation.

Mrs Maiden, 41, who has two sons aged six and seven, said: “People keep asking if this is a mid-life crisis. I’m not sure if that’s the case but whatever it is, it will be a life-changing experience. Not many mums can say they’ve rowed the Atlantic Ocean.

“I want to teach my children that it’s okay to do things differently and to challenge perceptions and reach for their dreams.

“I will miss my family. I’ve never been away from them for that long. But my husband will look after them and make sure they don’t starve.

“My whole family has been incredibly supportive and excited about what will be a life-changing experience for all of us.

“We all can’t wait for the moment I arrive and meet them in Antigua. It will be indescribable.

“We hope to inspire other women while raising money for women’s and children’s charities which mean a lot to us. I would say to any other women who are looking for a challenge that you should just do it.”

Mrs Maiden, an osteopath who moved from South Africa in 2003 and lives in Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, added: “I’m glad I’ve found a friend who matches my crazy and helps me to live my best life.”

The team, who’ve dubbed themselves “She rOars”, will be the only pair from Scotland rowing in this year’s Atlantic Challenge.

Stirling-based pilates teacher Mrs Faith moved to Scotland from Canada in 1999 and found out about the race while looking for a new challenge during lockdown in February 2021.

She said: “When I was back in Canada staying with my brother during lockdown, he told me he was training for an Iron Man.

“There’s a bit of sibling rivalry between us so I wanted to outdo him. I found out about the Atlantic Challenge and I started looking online to find a team, which is how I met Leanne.”

The 43-year-old added: “This is an opportunity to feel strong both physically and mentally, a chance to connect to something greater, a chance to remember the basic connection to our planet and universe.

“I am intrigued to find out who I will become after this adventure.”

The pair have raised enough through sponsorship to purchase their £70,000 boat and are now hoping to raise a further £200,000 to fund the adventure, plus significant funds for their chosen charities.

They launched their boat in Loch Lomond last week to begin their training regime, during which they must bank more than 100 hours on the water, including an overnight row, to be cleared to compete in December.

The duo are being sponsored by Wolfcraig Distillers, whose director Jamie Lunn said: “We are in awe of the physical and mental challenge Leanne and Sabrina are taking on.

“Most people can only dream of doing something like this in their lifetime but having the courage to take that first step to actually do it is something truly inspiring.”

TV personality and former SAS Commando Aldo Kane, who completed the same race in a four-man crew in 2016, wished them luck.

He said: “Rowing the Atlantic was one of the hardest things I’ve done and it’s great these ladies are doing it for such a great cause, I wish them the very best in their upcoming challenge.”

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