Saffron Walden solictor takes on epic 8,000 mile rowing challenge

Isabel Burnham

Isabel Burnham - Credit: Archant

Six women, one pink boat and a journey rowing more than 8,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean. That is the challenge facing Isabel Burnham, a solicitor from Saffron Walden.

Called The Coxless Crew, this all-female team is aiming for a world first by rowing 8,446 miles unsupported across the Pacific Ocean from America to Australia.

They are hoping to raise £250,000 for their charities Breast Cancer Care and Walking With the Wounded, the UK’s first fund for injured servicewomen.

Isabel, 29, who works in intellectual property litigation, set off on Tuesday and will be at sea for three months.

She will row for the first leg of a three-stage expedition which has now left San Francisco.

The team will stop in Hawaii and Samoa before finishing in Cairns, Australia.

The whole journey, weather permitting, should take six months.

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They will set foot on land just twice during a journey equivalent to travelling a third of the earth.

Isabel, who rowed when she was a student at Cambridge, says: “I have a passion for sport and the outdoors and I’m willing to give pretty much anything a go.”

Last year, she took part in The Italian Jog, an eight-person continuous running relay from London Bridge to the Coliseum to raise money for Access Sport. She has run several ultra-marathons and is a trekker, mountaineer and skier. There will be four of the six on board at one time.

They are likely to face storms, changing currents, a glaring sun, temperatures of over 40C and possibly meet whales.

All they will have to shelter them from the seas is their 30-foot boat.

Leading the crew is Laura Penhaul, 31, physiotherapist for the British Paralympic team from Cornwall.

After Isabel has rowed from America to Hawaii, Lizanne van Vuuren, 26, an osteopath from Newbury, will take over from Hawaii to Samoa, and Meg Dyos, 24, a London estate agent from Samoa to Cairns. Rowing the whole way with Laura are Emma Mitchell, 29, an expedition team leader from Portsmouth and Natalia Cohen, 40, an adventure tour leader from London.