A year from now, in December 2023, the There She Rows crew will be setting off on a 3,000-mile unassisted row across the Atlantic.
The Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge sees crews take on the challenge of rowing from the Canary Islands to Antigua.
The There She Rows mission is not confined to rowing the Atlantic, but also to inspire women and girls to conquer their own ‘Atlantic Ocean’ and be active, however that may look to each individual.
“What we are trying to showcase is that if we can go out there as four women who didn’t know each other before, some of us have never rowed before, and all come together and take on this gigantic challenge and cross the Atlantic Ocean in a tiny rowing boat powered by nothing but the four women on board, we hope that that stands as an inspiration for girls and women everywhere to say if we can do that you can do anything you want to do,” team captain Viki Monk said.
“That doesn’t need to be crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Your Atlantic Ocean might be joining a netball team for the first time, or putting on your running shoes and signing up for that half marathon you’ve always wanted to do.
“Or actually, if you didn’t realise that sport was something that maybe you could be, or might want to be, involved in but actually this campaign opens that up as an avenue for you. It’s something that we all feel hugely passionate about and hope that this campaign can help to shift the dial on some of those issues,” she added.
The team have shared the statistics in their campaign that girls drop out of sports at 1.5x the rate of boys by the time they reach age 14. More than half of all girls will have stopped taking part in sport altogether by age 17.
“It’s the number one driver for why we’ve all come abroad to take part in this challenge. For all of us, sport has been such an amazing outlet and addition to our lives, and one which we’ve all been lucky enough to reap the benefits of,” Monk said.
“Be that keeping physically healthy, but also the friends it’s given us over the course of our lives, playing in different teams and the benefit it gives you to open up this whole new network of friends, no matter where you are,” she added.
Conversely, 90% of female CEOs have played sport, and undoubtedly the benefits of being active and taking part in sport have had an impact on their careers.
“All the lessons it teaches you in life, the confidence, the teamwork, the leadership. All of those skills you can carry with you in your personal life and professional life,” Monk stressed.
Teammate Ana Zigic has endometriosis and PCOS, which forced her to take a break from sport in the past. The team will be raising money for Endometriosis UK alongside two other charities.
“I had to quit rowing in my early twenties because I was in so much pain but at the time I was undiagnosed. I thought I had a sports injury, I had MRI after MRI and I had really bad periods at the time and didn’t know the two were connected.
“For me, it wasn’t until I was talking to another rower who was telling me about this condition she had that I all clicked and I managed to advocate for myself until I got surgery,” she explained.
“I finally got my first surgery in 2017 and a month later I was back in a boat at Bristol University. Literally, a month later, stitches just healed, I was back in the boat and I was so happy,
“I couldn’t believe how much I had missed it. In that year and a half or so when I was off sport, it was probably some of the darkest years in my life because I didn’t have the outlet, direction, and discipline,” she said.
When Zigic returned to rowing, she instantly realised the benefits that sport provides that she had missed out on.
“Going back into sport and immediately getting this friendship group of rowers at Bristol, made moving to a city and joining a new university easier, it was an immediate support network. I didn’t realise how much I missed being out of it until I was back in it.
“Getting back into sport was such a life-changing experience. Having a diagnosis to be able to understand why sometimes I couldn’t lift as heavy as I wanted to and things like that was a big deal.”
The boats are only 7 metres long by 2 metres wide, with a tiny cabin for shelter. Not only will crews push their physical and mental strength to the limits, but they will also battle with the elements on their journey.
Previous rowers have recalled 40ft waves, blue marlins striking the boat, flying fish leaping on board and hitting people in the face while they’re rowing at night, and so much more.
“All that we’ll be powered by is the four wonderful women onboard” Monk explained.
“From the moment we set off we’ll be self-sufficient, that will be it for the rest of the race. It’ll essentially be us versus mother nature out there.
“In that two-hour off period, we also have to eat, change our clothes, and clean the boat. Really we’re only going to be sleeping for an hour at a time so we really need to become masters in power napping over the course of the next twelve months,” she said with a laugh.
The crew did not know each other before deciding to embark on this mammoth challenge together, but they were united by the common goal of rowing the Atlantic.
Zigic is the only crew member with prior rowing experience, having rowed for over 10 years now.
Despite having no prior rowing experience, Monk and teammates Ellie Reynolds and Mollie Green have a zest for adventure. Becoming iron women and playing high-level rugby are a few of their incredible achievements.
How can you support the team?
There She Rows is currently looking for people to help them on their mission. There are sponsorship packages available and can be emailed to discuss more at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can follow the crew and their progress on Instagram (@theresherows).
Meet The Team
There She Rows began with our brilliant captain Viki Monk, based in London, who began to put the crew together back in March. Having watched the race closely for a number of years, Viki was inspired to put a female team together – to race competitively and to provide a platform to inspire other women and girls to take up sport. Viki is an iron woman, ultra marathon trail runner and avid cold water enthusiast (she’s very much trying to get the crew on board with cold water stress training!). Viki is Communications Director at CSM (a sports and entertainment marketing agency), and is beyond passionate about pushing forward momentum and progress for women’s sport.
Ana also works in sport and entertainment, at Cake, and through our network the two of us connected on this awesome project and through a shared vision. Ana is from Serbia and Slovenia, and will be the first woman from either of these countries to row an ocean, but has lived in the UK for the longest time. She has been a rower for the past 10+ years, having stopped occasionally to have surgery for endometriosis, a cause she will be passionately advocating for during this journey.
Next to join our crew was Ellie, superstar Ironwoman who joined us off the back of successfully competing at Kona this summer. If this isn’t impressive enough, Ellie is a PHD student (researching cartilage repair cells), avid bikepacker, and is an adventurer to her core. Ellie is currently based in Cardiff and will be moving to Exeter in the new year (and Exmouth is where we will be mooring our boat – the team are incredibly excited to be based down on the south coast for training, next to the sea and amazing coastal trails).
Our newest recruit to complete our crew is Molly. Molly is a super resilient rugby player for Wasps (previously Harlequins) and infanteer. Among numerous other accolades, Molly was part of the first ever Women’s Army Navy match played at Twickenham, and additionally the first ever female infanteer to participate in the match. Molly has the most infectious positive attitude to every challenge that comes her way. Molly is also based in London, and loves to get away when training allows to go down to one of her favourite places, the sea.