At the Finish Line: Atlantic Antic’s Flo Ward

Last year, we caught up with Flo from Atlantic Antics ahead of her participation in ‘The World’s Toughest Row’; the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Earlier this month Flo and her teammates crossed the finish line! Here’s what she had to say:

On 2nd February, myself (Flo) and two friends – Georgie and Hannah – rowed into English Harbour, Antigua, after 52 days at sea. We had just rowed 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, breaking the world record for the youngest female trio to have rowed any ocean. Rowing into the harbour was an unforgettable experience as our friends and family stood on a nearby fort, cheering us in. We set off our flares for the famous finish line photos – a moment we had dreamed about for years.

Sadly, we didn’t get the winds we had hoped for, so it was a slow crossing, but an incredible adventure, nonetheless. We saw pods of dolphins, yellow-fin tuna, and a whopping seven whales – two of which on Christmas Day! And there we were thinking our Terry’s Chocolate Oranges were the best gifts we could possibly get. We would often call other teams to check in. We loved being able to exchange stories and share this experience with some of the only people who will ever truly understand what it’s like to row an ocean.

Image: Atlantic Campaigns

Inevitably there were a few low moments such as the water maker breaking on day 20. Faced with the prospect of hand pumping for the remainder of our trip if we couldn’t find a solution, it was an unwelcome situation. We had our own tactics for getting through the lows. Usually one person (normally the one trying to solve the issue) was allowed a brief panic before getting on with the matter. Then we reminded ourselves that everything is temporary – this will end. And sure enough, each “low” day turned around and was graced with something positive. Even if that positive came at the eleventh hour (or midnight in one case), in the form of a pod of dolphins.

One of my biggest fears going into the row wasn’t sharks or blue marlin attacks (yes there were at least 3 in the fleet this year!), but my phone breaking. Mobile phones are the main source of entertainment on the boat, giving us access to music, podcasts, and audiobooks. I took 4 phones in case the salt water got to any of them. Fortunately, Aquapac’s cases were so good, that even though we regularly left our phones on deck with waves crashing over them, they all survived the crossing!

It’s surreal to think that less than a month ago we were still on our little boat, Dolly Parton (named so because why not?!). It was an experience I’ll treasure forever, and that quite frankly is difficult to put into words. The friendship the three of us formed on that ocean is one that I am sure will see us through more adventures together.

Image: Atlantic Campaigns, Penny Bird.

And for those sat there thinking rowing an ocean is crazy, you’re right, but I also can’t recommend it enough. If you’re sat in an office or at home reading this, imagine yourself in the middle of the Atlantic where the closest people to you are on the space station. Isn’t that incredible?! That’s why I’ve got my eye on the Pacific next.

Feature image: Atlantic Campaigns