Preparing to take on the ‘World’s Toughest Row’, meet Flo Ward; a member of the crew behind Atlantic Antics. In December 2020, Flo, Hannah and Georgie will take on the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge. Consisting of 3,000 miles from La Gomera, Canary Islands to English Harbour, Antigua in a boat named Dolly Parton, the women are taking on this epic adventure to support two incredible charities, Women in Sport and Rowing Together for Healthy Minds (RTHM). And whilst they’re at it, they are going to try to break two world records to become the fastest and youngest female trio to row across the Atlantic.
Born in the bustling capital, Flo fell in love with rowing whilst studying Spanish at the University of Bristol. She continued to row for the University as well as at a local club in Seville, where she spent a year abroad studying; she’d been bitten by the bug! When she’s not rowing or competing in triathlons (for fun, she says!), you can find her at SoulCycle or working as a data analyst for a marketing agency. We got the chance to catch up with Flo in between her busy schedule before she heads off on her trip, which Aquapac has provided kit for. Here’s what we found out:
Wow, you sure like to keep healthy! What’s your daily routine like?
“Typically, I’d get up at 5.30am to train at the gym before work. Unlike rowing at university, we don’t train twice a day. Instead, we focus on one, good quality session that is either an erg or strength based, roughly 6 times per week. As we reached summer, we then spent weekends training on the boat and getting some water time. These were generally 24-36-hour rows.”
Speaking of daily routine, how has it changed in the run-up to the challenge? Has lockdown caused any unexpected problems?
“Lockdown threw a bit of a spanner in the works, especially when gyms were forced to close. We had to quickly source equipment and weights. Luckily, we all managed to borrow rowing machines from various people and bought a heavy kettlebell before they all sold out! Over the year I’ve now grown my little at-home gym with the additions of a turbo trainer, TRX, a few dumbbells, and even a trap bar! Lockdown has actually made training more convenient as I don’t have to wake up as early and have more energy from not having to commute!”
What are the things you’re most looking forward to?
“The sunrises and sunsets. I think they make for an incredible backdrop against the ocean. And, of course, the wildlife! I’m hoping for pods of dolphins and maybe even a whale if we’re lucky.”
And what are you expecting to be the most challenging?
“The sleep deprivation. Usually, I only sleep about six hours per night when working in London, but this will be next level. We will only sleep for about one to two hours at a time and we’ve heard stories of previous rowers hallucinating from the tiredness. I am also worried about all our iPods/iPhones/headphones breaking and not having any music for weeks on end!”
If you were only allowed to pack five things, what would they be?
“My phone packed with all my favourite music (in an Aquapac Waterproof Phone Case), sunglasses, a Terry’s Chocolate Orange for Christmas Day, a GoPro to capture the dolphins swimming past, and lastly can my dog come too?!”
If completing the race wasn’t challenging enough, have you set a goal date to reach the finish point?
“We are hoping to break the world record for the fastest female trio which is currently 49 days so less than that! It’s tricky to predict though as weather will play a big role. I’m hoping for less than 45 days. I want my holiday in Antigua at the end!”
What’s the first thing you do going to be when you land in Antigua?
“Eat some real food, preferably a burger or a steak. And then it’s got to be a shower after all those days at sea!”
Do you have any tips for people looking to get into rowing? What would your first steps be for a newbie?
“Go down to your local club and try it out. Most clubs run learn to row courses that give you a taste for the sport. The sense of community that boat clubs provide is unparalleled.”
You’re supporting two charities – how can we donate?
“Sport has played such an important role in our lives and has shaped who we are today. We want everyone to have the same opportunity to experience both the physical and mental benefits of sport. That’s why we are supporting Women in Sport and RTHM. If you’d like to donate to our charities, please head over to our JustGiving page here: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/atlanticantics”
And finally, how can we follow you during the race?
“You will be able to follow us at www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com from 12th December. Our land team will also be posting updates on our website and social channels. Find out more at www.atlanticantics2020.com”