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.
“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.
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