Four New ‘Birds’ Want a Place In 4birdsaboating Challenge

fourbirdsaboating-selection-dayFourbirdsaboating held their selection day on Saturday to find the final member of the team to join them on their epic Pacific Ocean rowing challenge from Monterey, California to Australia. The start of the adventure will be to compete in the Great Pacific Race and the other part of the challenge is to provide on- line live ocean and environmental lessons to young people around the world and to raise funds for computer equipment for remote schools.

The selection event was held in the garden at the Five Horseshoes pub in Maidensgrove where I went to meet four ‘birds’ who so wanted that last seat in the boat.

Sarah Weldon from Henley who is heading up the challenge together with other team members; Lizzie Williams and Kate Gibbs were keen to get to know their potential new recruits.  Sarah said, “Many teams doing this type of big adventure fourbirdsaboating-selection-2include psychometric testing but I think spending a whole day with everyone together is a much better way of really getting to know them.”

Peter May from Bisham Abbey Sailing School; part of the fourbirdsaboating training team joined the girls to put them through some teambuilding and life raft and rope activities.

Tracy Btracy-bird-1enham travelled all the way from West Palm Beach, Southern Florida for the day!  Tracy is a writer of blogs, articles and books for Travel Fit.  She is author of ‘The Best Book on How to Travel Fit’.  She has loads of adventures under her belt – she’s run in Africa, she’s cycled in Switzerland and she’s swam in Australia.  She has rowed too as a leisure pursuit. Tracy said, “I really want to do this challenge because of both the science and education elements – it’s a complete fit.”  Her biggest challenge she faces will be to fit in the training logistically from America.

Kate Collison, a Maths teacher from Lymington was the second potential ‘bird’.  She teaches at a kate-bird3school for boys who have emotional, social and behavioural issues.  Kate says she teaches in a very different way and has introduced lots of learning outside the classroom.  She said, “I’ve done some big trips including high level hiking but nothing as long as arduous as this challenge.”  When I asked her what she would bring the party she said, “Many of my team members on previous challenges have said I kept them going – keeping their spirits high at difficult times.”  She also told me that she’d miss Radio 4 and fresh fruit and veg the most after her family and friends.

susannah-bird2A former Cambridge Women’s Boat Race competitor, Susannah Cass originally from Walton on Thames was the next potential recruit.  She is currently living in Dublin doing a PHD in Ecology.  She only learnt to row as an undergraduate at Cambridge but then went on to row for Magdalene College for two years before getting a seat in the boat race.  Susannah said, “This would be my ‘ideal job’ combining the excitement I have about rowing and science.”  She thought her biggest challenge would be the length of time away and the isolation.  When I asked what her luxury item she would take she said, “A notebook and pens in a waterproof box!”

The final potential recruit Kate Dobinson lives in Highbury opposite Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium katewithdog-bird4with her dog Harry.  She started rowing a year ago at Lee Valley Rowing club and competed this year in an eight.  She works for the Telegraph as a journalist. Kate found out about the challenge through an article she wrote about Sarah doing her Jungle Marathon.  Kate’s biggest adventure has been to climb Kilimanjaro in her third year at university.  She told me that her Dad gave her some ski poles to use which she really didn’t think she’d need; however on the descent these came in very useful.  What does her Dad think about this adventure?  Kate replied, “He talked to me about the challenges facing me, including 50ft waves and sharks!  It made me think, I just want to do it more, to overcome my fears and do something that scares me.”   Kate’s luxury item would be her favourite pair of thick socks with penguins on!

Sarah and her team have a really hard decision to make…an announcement about who they have chosen will be published shortly.

Photos by Paul Walker @walkerpaul35

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