This week Vistair had the privilege of being joined by Janette Benaddi and Niki Doeg, who shared their incredible story of adventure and courage. Part of a team of four ordinary working mums from Yorkshire they took on an extraordinary challenge, that of rowing across the Atlantic in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. It is without a doubt the toughest rowing race in the world.

Janette Benaddi, Frances Davies, Helen Butters and Niki Doeg, were four very different women, all juggling full-time jobs alongside being mothers to each of their two children. Although they would never have described themselves as athletes, their shared love of rowing brought them together and they agreed, over one wine too many, to complete in The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. This 3,000 mile journey between the Canaries and the Caribbean is not for the faint hearted.

It took three years of planning, fundraising and training to get to the starting line, and over two months to cross the finish line – ten gruelling weeks in which they lost power, steering, and water…and during a hurricane their sense of humour.

The lessons learnt along the way resonated with the Vistair Team especially when Janette and Niki talked about how leadership was as crucial to their success, as was knowing the strengths of respective team members. Yet above all there was the message of selfless respect for each other, the challenge and the indeed the need to plan accordingly, with small goals having as much value as the larger objective. A superb talk.

Overall what also came across was the importance of mental strength which enabled them to keep going whilst battling against adversity. Janette explained the importance of “rowing together” and “all being clear about where they were heading”.

Despite a number of incidents including a power loss and a broken water maker that left them hand pumping for drinking water they continued to “embrace the opportunities for learning”. Negative thoughts weren’t allowed to intrude or disrupt their efforts at any time.

When they crossed the finish line on 25 February 2016, the four women officially became Guinness world record holders as the oldest all-female crew to row across any ocean. A stunning achievement and a story the Vistair Team could have listened to for much longer.

The problem now for their friends and family is…they are looking for something else to target whilst embarking upon ‘keeping in trim’ with adventures like the London Marathon and the Marathon de Sables!

For more information about Four Mums in a Boat and their fundraising activities take a look at their website and their story is worth reading:

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