Saffron Walden lawyer helps Coxless Crew set two world records after rowing 8,000 miles across the Pacific

Coxless Crew arrive in Hawaii

Coxless Crew arrive in Hawaii - Credit: Archant

After rowing more than 8,000 miles and setting two world records, a team of British women have made history by crossing the Pacific in a pink boat called Doris.

Raising money for Breast Cancer Care and Walking with the Wounded, They have now become both the first all-female team and the first team of four to row the Pacific Ocean.

The team initially set off from San Francisco in April but had to abandon the journey and row back to America fter 16 days because of an electrical fault on the boat. They set off for a second time in May, this time from Santa Barbara and this time there was no going back. Eight months on, they arrived in Cairns, Australia today, Monday, January 25.

The false start means they have actually rowed over 9,000 miles.

The team includes Isabel Burnham, 31 a solicitor from Saffron Walden who rowed on the first leg of 3,000 miles.

Isabel, who grew up in Arkesden went to school in Saffron Walden and rowed for Cambridge University when she was a student, told The Reporter in July: “We have a number of ways to keep ourselves distracted and awake while rowing. We tell each other stories, play games and the recount the plots of entire films memorise poems and sing.” They stargazed and saw shapes in the clouds. She said the day a whale approached the boat was “a hairy moment”.

They called themselves the Coxless Crew, because unlike the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, the rowers had no cox to lead them. Three women: Laura Penhaul, Natalia Cohen and Emma Mitchell rowed the whole way with three others rowing on one leg each to make up the four. Isabel took the first leg with Lizanne Vuuren, 26. an osteopath, rowing the second leg and Meg Dyos, a sales negotiator for Foxton’s Estate Agents, on the final stretch.

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They have rowed continuously as pairs in two-hour shifts, sleeping 90 minutes at a time.

To keep up their strength, each of them ate 5,000 calories a day, eating freeze-dried meals plus protein bars, chocolate, fruit and nuts, and drank desalinated sea water. On Christmas day they had a cake. They faced waves the height of a house, storms and burning sun. For a few days they were visited by an albatross who they named Albert.

Isabel described the flying fish that filled the boat saying each morning as the sun rose, they had to pick them off the boat and throw them back into the water.