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Craftinsure 2012

Anglo American Boat Club- Virgin GB Row 2010

by Matthew Dickens on 26 Jul 2010
The Seagals are escorted by a fireboat as they approach the finish on the Thames. SW
Anglo American Boat Club: Virgin GB Row 2010 - Four female rowers have become the first women ever to row around the coast of Britain.

The women who spent 51 days at sea in a tiny boat the length of two minis ended their epic 2,000-mile journey this morning at Tower Bridge in London.

By becoming the first women ever to row around mainland Britain their time of 51 days 16hours 42minutes has been accepted for a Guinness World Record.

Belinda Kirk, 35, from Bristol, Royal Navy nurse Laura Thomasson, 23, from Dover, IT support manager Beverley Ashton, 29, from Wantage, Oxfordshire and Angela Madsen, a wheelchair-bound 50-year-old grandmother and former US marine from Long Beach California are raising money for the services’ charity, Help For Heroes.

When they set out from Tower Bridge in London on June 1, they were taking part in Virgin GB Row 2010 - the world’s toughest rowing race.

They were racing a team of four men around the British mainland.

But when the male team gave up after less than two weeks, the women carried on alone and without any assistance for five more weeks.

During that time the Seagals, as they are known were: swamped by huge waves which put the boat’s water maker out of action; almost sunk by a rogue wave that flooded the front cabin, survived storms, navigated some of the most treacherous tides on the planet, almost been mown down by ships, bombed by the RAF and they have run short of food.

Angela Madsen actually broke her finger setting off a flare to warn off a ship that was on a collision course. She then carried on rowing with a broken finger by strapping her hand to the oar.

Because of bad weather and strong winds, their journey has taken three weeks more than expected and they packed enough food for just 40 days.

And earlier this week a power failure onboard the boat meant they ration drinking water.

Sir Richard Branson who sponsored the event by awarding the first-ever Virgin Trophy to the winners, said: 'Go Seagals!!! I knew I was right to back to girls in beating the boys in the first ever Virgin GB Row and I’m over the moon that such brave women have achieved a World Record in such a spectacular fashion!

'This is why we set up the Virgin Trophy – Belinda, Angela, Laura and Beverley have pushed through extreme tiredness, hunger and serious injury to battle on and achieve the goal they set out to achieve.

'Britain has something to be proud of this summer after all! I hope they will get all of Britain’s support when they record up the Thames on Thursday to claim their World Record and the Trophy!'

After passing under Tower Bridge at the end of their epic journey, the four women had an emotional reunion with friends and family they haven’t seen for more than seven weeks. They completely missed the world cup and Wimbledon passed them by.

Throughout the journey, the girls were able to contact the outside world via their Samsung Wave phones, donated by Samsung and Virgin Media. Video from their journey is available on our YouTube link or from our press gallery.

During the race the crew sent back blogs and video from the boats. All available on our press gallery (below)

Skipper Belinda Kirk said: 'Skipper Belinda Kirk, 35, from Bristol said: 'When the men’s team gave up the race at Land’s End we were determined to make it to the finish but not one of imagined we’d be at sea for 51 days.

'With every day of delay it’s been hard to keep going but we did it and we’re so proud of our achievement. I can’t wait to get home and sleep in a bed for more than two hours at a time!'

Laura Thomasson said: 'We’re so excited that the race is over. There were days at sea when we believed it would never end. It’s a fantastic feeling to be home.'

Beverley Ashton said: 'Without doubt the hardest aspect is the mental challenge, sure 12hrs of rowing a day is a physical test but it becomes a manageable, known quantity.

'Mentally there is a lot more to take on, the uncertainty of how long you'll be out here for, being confined to such minimal space, no personal space, constantly on top of others and little contact with the outside world; in addition to these, for me, the fact I find the open water an uncomfortable place to be.'

Paraplegic Angela Madsen, 50, from Long Beach, California said: 'I have rowed both the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean and rowing around Britain is certainly among the hardest I’ve ever done. I’m glad to be back.'

GB Row is being run by the Anglo American Boat Club, named after an historic race, launched in 1872.

Sir Richard Branson’s daughter, Holly, set off the race at Tower Bridge on June 1. At one stage the women were 80 miles in the lead as the women and men raced towards Land’s End.

The men were forced to abandon the race after spending four days anchored at Land’s End. Their anchor became stuck and they had to get help to lift it, which broke the rules on assistance.

Virgin GB ROW 2010 is the prequel to a much bigger race to be held in 2011. As many as 20 teams have already expressed interest in racing around the UK next summer

In the summer of 2005, Grenadier Guards officer Lt William de Laszlo, Lt Ben Jesty, Sgt James Bastin and civilian Will Turnage became the first people ever to row around Great Britain.

It took them 26 days 21 hours and 14 minutes – a record that has stood for five years.

Will de Laszlo came up with the idea of a non-stop round Britain rowing race to raise money for Help For Heroes.

Though only two crews took part in GB Row this year, a race with as many as 20 crews competing is already being planned for 2011.

For more information, please visit:

Virgin’s founder and Chairman Sir Richard Branson not only sponsored the event but the Seagals will be the first ever recipients of the Virgin Trophy, which Virgin will award to those who complete extraordinary challenges.

Virgin GB Row 2010 was also sponsored by Virgin Media and

Samsung sponsored GB Row 2010 with their latest Smartphone. The Samsung Wave allowed each of the women to stay in touch with the world and record their incredible journey on the phone.

The Mary Rose Trust are also sponsors.

The Seagals are sponsored by New Zealand lawn firm, Haigh Lyon.
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