Salty Science Crosses the Atlantic as Fastest Women's Crew | Concept2

Salty Science Crosses the Atlantic as Fastest Women's Crew

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Apr 01, 2024

salty science team in the boat
Team Salty Science. Photo: World's Toughest Row

Back in November 2023, we wrote about four determined women who were planning to row across the Atlantic Ocean starting in December 2023 as part of the World’s Toughest Row™. They called themselves team Salty Science and were undertaking the 3000-mile journey in the name of science and to raise money and awareness for ocean conservation-based charities.

Chantale Bégin, Lauren Shea, Noelle Helder, and Isabelle Côté are four marine scientists, all comfortable in the water, around marine life, and tough challenges, but none of them came to this endeavor with any on water rowing experience. Salty Science not only made it safely across the ocean but were the fastest women’s crew. What an incredible accomplishment!

The team planned on rowing for as long as 50 days, but finished their journey in an astounding 38 days, 18 hours, 56 minutes, to become the fastest women crew to do so. When planning an endeavor such as an ocean crossing you plan for the worst, so the crew had more than enough food to last the possibility of extra days or weeks on the water.

From the get-go the team encountered challenges. Rough seas were physically and mentally demanding, and equipment issues meant making repairs during precious rest and rowing time. The crew would go from rowing 4 knots on flatter water, to average speeds of 10-12 knots when surfing down bigger waves, to as fast as 17 knots, which, they noted, was quite scary. As for their equipment they had to repair their water maker that failed after taking on water. Water makers for ocean rowers are a lifeline, as they take saltwater and make it potable. When you’re a self-supported crew for more than a month you take on all the responsibilities and demands of your boat.

the team holding oarsLeft to right: Team members Isabelle Côté, Lauren Shea, Chantale Bégin and Noelle Helder.

The team said they didn’t face any doubts about their ability to complete the row, even with rough seas and equipment malfunctions. While new to rowing, two of the women had done ocean crossings by sailboat and we’re used to being adaptable on long journeys and making decisions when weather or conditions change quickly. The crew spent two years not only training to row the 3000 miles, but running through many scenarios and how to manage them. More than once they encountered issues they had to adjust to on the fly.

the team in the boat

Some of the more memorable moments outside of rowing were unbelievable sunrises, sunsets, moonrises, and starlit nights, with the sunrises being a huge moment every morning after a long night of rowing. They saw countless tuna, flying fish, and a pod of 50 dolphins that swam and breached around them as they rowed. They even had an 8-foot shark ram their rudder.

Despite the unimaginable distance of the row itself, the team was able to find some moments that truly can’t be experienced anywhere else. While the crew doesn’t think they’ll choose to row across the ocean again anytime soon, their love for the ocean will likely keep them crossing on other vessels.

See more of Salty Science's remarkable journey on instagram.

Salty Science to Tackle the World's Toughest Row

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