Naked rowers break Atlantic record

Story highlights

  • An all female team has rowed across the Atlantic Ocean going naked most of the way
  • The tactic helped them counter boils and sores caused by their clothes rubbing against their skin
  • The British team broke the record crossing time for a boat of five rowers

Rowing across the Atlantic Ocean may be an extreme test of human endurance but an all female crew who completed the feat discovered a secret tactic to ease the physical burden -- rowing nude.

"We spent a lot of time rowing naked because when the sea water gets inside your clothes it increases friction against your skin which can cause sores," says Debbie Beadle, Skipper of the Row for Freedom team.

"If you row naked it means you don't rub as much and you also get dry much quicker instead of constantly having wet clothes," she adds.

The unconventional ploy worked to perfection as Beadle and her fellow crew members -- Julia Immonen, Katie Pattison-Hart, Kate Richardson and Helen Leigh -- smashed the existing Atlantic crossing record for a boat of five rowers, taking just 45 days.

The British team also became the first all female boat to complete the 2,600 mile voyage between the Canary Islands and Barbados, although they were sure to don clothing as they approached their final destination last month.

See also: Teenager's historic round the world sail

"Getting the records was just amazing," says Beadle. "It was something we worked hard for and were really determined to achieve when we set out."

The trip followed a route previously used to transport slaves between Europe and the Americas in the 19th century, raising money for UK-based anti-human trafficking charities the A21 Campaign and ECPAT UK.

Beadle, whose day job is a youth worker at ECPAT UK, says the motivation to achieve something notable for such a worthy cause far outweighed any inhibitions that she or the crew may have held.

"We got to know each other very well," says Beadle as she recalls airing her sores in front of her ship mates after a particularly hard day of rowing.

"What's been most inspiring since we got back however is that some of the young people that I work with have told me they've been inspired by us to take up a 10 kilometer run which is really quite sweet," she says.

As well as having to improvise to counter boils and sores, Beadle and her crew faced numerous other unexpected challenges during the course of their epic voyage.

She highlights the steering on the boat breaking and losing much of their food when hatches became flooded with sea water as two of the most daunting issues to arise.

"Our water maker, which made most of our water, also broke but in the end we were brought closer together by everything that happened. We even used to sing to each other to keep our spirits up," says Beadle.

"By the end we were quite dehydrated," she adds. "But it was a great feeling when we realized what we had achieved."

See also: Round the world rowing and cycle challenge

Beadle and her crew mates have since returned to their day jobs but are already busy plotting their next mission.

"Because of our focus on human trafficking we are considering traveling across some of the deserts in North Africa which are major trafficking routes," she says.

But no matter what the crew end up doing next Beadle thinks it likely and preferable that the task will be completed fully dressed.

"It was a necessity at the time but our next mission will definitely be with clothes on," she says.


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