Article by Beverley Wilkins
The two best friends who braved 30ft waves, sharks, blisters and sleep deprivation to smash the female pairs Atlantic rowing world record with no previous rowing experience, are taking to the waves once more for an even mightier challenge – World’s Toughest Row – Pacific.
Jessica Oliver (31) and Charlotte Harris (32) made headlines in 2022 when they rowed the 3,000 miles between La Gomera, Spain, and Antigua in their boat Cosimo, cruising to victory five days ahead of their closest rivals, breaking the world record and raising £100,000 for homeless charity Shelter and Women’s Aid in the process.
Best friends Jessica Oliver and Charlotte Harris smashed the world record for the fastest female pair to row across the Atlantic. They reveal how having no prior rowing experience posed no obstacle: https://t.co/tVigLQigZz pic.twitter.com/4y61ZEANPT
— BBC Woman's Hour (@BBCWomansHour) February 3, 2022
Now, the pair, who first met at Cardiff University, are back to pick up their oars once more to take part in the Pacific Challenge in June 2024 and row the treacherous 2,800 miles between Monterey in California and Kauai in Hawaii.
Racing against 20 other teams, the duo will face extreme weather conditions, physical exhaustion, a variety of sea creatures and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch as they attempt to complete the challenge and raise £50,000 for Shelter. The route has previously only been completed by just 88 people in 33 boats, including 11 female crews, 18 male crews and four mixed gender crews.
Back with a brand, new boat, the girls are now actively seeking corporate partners and sponsors to support their training efforts and help them reach their target for Shelter.
· Jess and Charlotte completed their Atlantic Row on January 26th 2022 after 45 Days, 7 Hours and 25 minutes at sea to become the fastest female pair to ever row the Atlantic Ocean.
· During that time, they survived a capsizing, a collision with another boat and Jess even had a seabird fly into her face at night!
· The girls had made provision for food for 60 days but ran out of snacks on Day 30, a factor which may have contributed to their record-breaking time.
· The first person to row from the West Coast to Hawaii was Patrick Quesnel in 1976. It took him 114 days.
· The fastest female pair to row the Pacific Route was Ocean Hearts who completed the row in 2016 in 46 days, 17 hours, 47 minutes.
· The average time to complete the crossing for all crew sizes is 62 days.
· Wild and unpredictable the Pacific Ocean is deemed more dangerous than the Atlantic due to its larger size, which allows the waves to receive more wind energy.
· The Pacific Ocean is known for its huge ‘rogue’ waves. One recorded in the North Pacific in 2022 reached the height of 17.6m (58ft) – equivalent to the height of four double decker buses! Fortunately, it’s thought they only occur every 1,300 years.
· When competing in the race, Jess and Charlotte will row two hours on, two hours off, 24 hours a day.
· During their Atlantic challenge the Jess and Charlotte ate seven meals a day, taking onboard about 6,500 calories. Their food was in dehydrated vacuum-packed form to save on weight.
WOW! What an absolutely incredible achievement! Not to mention more than £43k raised so far to support Shelter and Women's Aid 🤩 A huge well done to Jessica and Charlotte! #FundraiserFriday #TWAC2021 https://t.co/cqO4zVto2d
— Shelter London (@ShelterLDN) January 28, 2022
Jess and Charlotte have now commenced their rigorous training schedule and will need to complete 250 hours of on-water training, including night time and open sea training, 260 gym sessions and multiple safety at sea courses. They will be training in Burnham-on-Crouch and in the North Sea.