Dubai residents set world record in gruelling Pacific Ocean race

The Girls Who Dare team smashed the previous best by more than two full days

An all-woman crew who spent two months at sea have set a Guinness World Record for crossing the Pacific Ocean in a small rowing boat.

The Girls Who Dare team successfully rowed 4,400 kilometres from San Francisco to Hawaii as part of the Great Pacific Race.

On Saturday, Dubai residents Jane Leonard, 37, and Orlagh Dempsey, 27, set a new race record of 60 days, 13 hours and 13 minutes when they crossed the finish line in Waikiki, Honolulu, with their teammate Vicki Anstey, 43, from the UK.

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The normal 30-minute paddle from finish line to landing dock took well over three hours of hard slog as the girls' mettle was tested one final time
Great Pacific Race organisers

They officially broke the previous world record of 62 days, 18 hours and 36 minutes by more than two full days.

Setting off on May 31 in their compact 24-foot boat, the trio battled 15-metre waves, severe fatigue and battering 120kph winds.

But even with the finish line in sight, they fought hard until the very end, as Mother Nature gave them one last surprise as they rowed their last few strokes to victory.

“After crossing the finish line earlier today, the @girls.who.dare may have thought their row was over and done with, but due to strong currents and stronger winds, getting to land was not a straightforward process,” race organisers said.

"Due to Hawaii's world-famous shore breaks, to get to land safely the rowing boats need to row through a channel that has been dredged to allow safe egress to and from the yacht club.

“The normal 30-minute paddle from finish line to landing dock took well over three hours of hard slog as the girls' mettle was tested one final time. The girls knew that if they accepted a tow that world record would not stand.”

As well as breaking a race record, Girls Who Dare set a second world record for crossing the mid-Pacific at 60 days, 17 hours, and six minutes, with an average speed of 1.43 knots.

Visibly exhausted and sporting war wounds from their epic rowing feat, including swollen hands, blisters and body sores, the women celebrated to the cheers of onlookers as confetti rained down on them.

Hours after touching land for the first time in 60 days, Leonard, Dempsey and Anstey ate their first proper home-cooked meal in two months: a supersized burger and chips.

On board, the trio consumed close to 300,000 calories – about 4,000 a day – throughout the duration of the race, courtesy of dehydrated meal packs.

The team – who are all amateur rowers – spent months planning and preparing for their 4,440km mission.

Rowing 24 hours a day on a four-hours-on, two-hours-off schedule, they took turns sleeping in a small cabin that measured 2m by 1.5m.

Speaking to The National on day 58 of their voyage, Leonard said that although it was one of the most challenging endeavours of her life, she would do it again if she had the chance.

Speaking by satellite phone, she said: “We’ve been hit hard by rain, wind and major fatigue, but one of the toughest things for me has been trying to carry on with daily life on a small boat.

“The biggest thing is the constant battle on your body. My hands are destroyed with blisters and we have sores on our bums from sitting for hours each day. When the salt water hits them it’s awful.

“Going into a rowing shift with sores all over takes so much mental strength, but if I had the opportunity to do this again, I would.”

Updated: August 1st 2021, 1:41 PM
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