Record-breaking trans-Atlantic rowing attempt in boat covered with faces

Photo: (From L to R) Sarah Duff, 24, Consumer Researcher, from Whitchurch Hill, Oxfordshire; Rachel Flanders, 17, Sixth form student, from Bolton Lancashire; Clair Desborough, 32, Nurse Practitioner, from Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire; Fiona Waller, 32, Photographer, from Clapham, London

A double world-record attempt by an all-female rowing team has come up with an innovative fundraising idea to raise money for three cancer charities.

The four ‘Atlantic Angels’ are taking part in the Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race later this year launching a unique ‘Faceboat’ fundraising campaign.
The hull of their rowing boat, Faceboat, will be covered with the pictures of 25,000 supporters, each donating £10 to jump aboard at  Through their innovative Faceboat fundraising campaign, the Angels hope to raise a total of £250,000 for Cancer Research UK, Helen Rollason Heal Cancer Charity and Trinity Hospice in Clapham.

Record atempt
The Atlantic Angels are attempting to break the existing all-female fours Atlantic crossing time of 67 days, 7 hours and 20 minutes.  If successful, 17-year-old crew member Rachel Flanders, from Lancashire, will become the youngest person to have rowed across an ocean.  The girls are determined to break the two records in admiration of 32-year-old crew member Fiona Waller, from Clapham, South London, who is herself a recent cancer survivor.
Says Rachel Flanders: “I am relishing the challenge of becoming the youngest ever person to row across the Atlantic.  Although I am still young, I have no doubt that this will be the most challenging and most amazing thing I will ever do in my life. We have to row Faceboat across the Atlantic with no engine and no sails. Just one big ocean, four girls, four oars, muscle power and determination! I’ll miss all my friends at Bolton Girls School, but being able to do is an opportunity not to be missed.  I know they’ll be following my journey and cheering me on!”
Cancer survivor Fiona wanted to do something amazing to raise money for cancer charities after recently getting the ‘all-clear’ from the disease.  She says:  “I saw my mother, Elisabeth, go through and eventually die from cancer seven years ago.  I was also diagnosed with cervical cancer two years ago, so I have seen the impact this disease can have. Unfortunately it seems to be more and more common – everyone I talk to has been touched by cancer in some way.
“Taking on this personal challenge is my way of saying thank you to those special people that helped my mother and myself whilst suffering from cancer. The money raised through Faceboat will go towards improving research into diagnosis, treatment and cure of cancer – as well as improving the quality of life of those going through the disease.”
The driving forces behind the team are Oxfordshire-based 24-year-old Sarah Duff, from Whitchurch Hill, and 32-year-old Clair Desborough, from Henley-on Thames.  Both Sarah and Clair row for Upper Thames Rowing Club, based in Henley-on Thames.

Says Sarah: “We hope people will be really excited by this challenge and want to get involved. We need everyone who would like to support the Atlantic Angels and our charities to sign up on our Faceboat website.  Visitors can choose the position on the hull of Faceboat where they would like their picture to be positioned, make a donation to secure the place and you’re on board!”                                             

Adds Clair: “Just think, you can say you crossed the Atlantic on a rowing boat without even having to lift an oar – leave that to us! The more people that help, the more faces there will be on the boat and the more money we will raise for our cancer charities.”
The Atlantic Angels will be updating their blog on  regularly to keep their supporters up to date with progress and morale on board Faceboat.

To secure a place on the Atlantic Angels’ Faceboat and to be a part of their inspirational challenge to raise money for their chosen cancer charities visit