Molly Brown is not your average student. An ex GB junior sailor, the 20 year old, currently studying at the University of Southampton, is attempting the Rannoch Women’s Challenge. Molly is aiming to not only set a new world record for the fastest row across the North Atlantic from New York to Falmouth in an ocean rowing boat, but also to become the youngest woman to row the Atlantic. The team will also be setting a world first by being the first all female crew to attempt this crossing.
I met up with her to find out more about her fantastic challenge.
Molly, thank you for meeting me. The whole experience seems so exciting and a little daunting. Could you tell us more about your challenge and what you hope to achieve?
We are five women whose aim is to set the fastest time across the North Atlantic from New York to Falmouth, breaking the current world record of 43 days, 21 hours, 26 minutes and 48 seconds. We will also be the first female team ever! If we finish, we will have set a world first but we are going for the overall record.
How did you become involved in the challenge?
The company in charge of running the campaign, Rannoch Adventure, is based in my hometown, Burnham on Crouch. I heard of the challenge through some family friends.
When will the challenge commence?
We are hoping to leave at the beginning of June but there is no exact date. We will be keeping an eye out for good weather! As it is a record attempt rather than a race, we are able to begin the challenge when we want.
Why do you want to row an ocean?
For myself, by completing the crossing, I will have a world record to my name. I also get on really well with my teammates, who are really supportive. We all have the same aim and work together for it. If I didn’t get on with them so well, I probably wouldn’t want to do the challenge. I also love having something to train for, something that I can just dedicate all of my time to. Another factor is that because I’ve sailed all my life, being on a boat for such a long time really does not faze me.
Why did you take up rowing at university?
I decided to do a different sport to sailing at university. I really enjoyed how competitive the sport was and, for me, it was a natural progression from competitive sailing at GB level to another sport.
In terms of training, are you following your conventional university rowing training programme?
I used to combine the two training programmes, but now I have had to break away from the conventional rowing training to focus on the Rannoch Women’s Challenge. The type of training required is slightly different as it is all about endurance. Our training has been broken down into phases. In an average training session I’ll be on the erg for two hours and then two hours off which will be replicated on the water.
You are relatively new to rowing. Do you think this will pose a problem?
Only Guin Batten (Olympic medallist and fellow Southampton University Boat Club alumnus) and I have any rowing experience. The others do have boat experience; kayaking and sailing. However, I think that rowing knowledge is only part of it.
Following on from that, what do you mean by saying that rowing is only a part of it?
The whole experience is more than just knowing how to row. It will take sheer mental toughness to row 12 hours a day in challenging conditions. I like to think that I am really mentally strong. I don’t think I would be a part of the team if I wasn’t. The physical strength depends on your mental strength too. If you say your arms and legs hurt, then you will never make it across the North Atlantic. I think that this is the key quality that I will bring to the crew.
Do you all have different roles on the boat?
Yes we each bring different skills to the crew. Guin is our skipper and responsible for leading the crew; I will be working with Guin as co- navigators (we are just finishing our Ocean Yachtmaster Course – I am loving the sextant work!). Gilly is an engineer so she will be in charge of the electronics and equipment maintenance. Mary has the most offshore experience and is taking on the safety and first aid, while Alex has an amazing way with words and is picking up the social media and communications side.
What are you most excited about?
I am really excited to reach the halfway mark. Once I know that I have already reached halfway, it will just be the same distance again. Breaking down the distance in my head really helps and motivates me. Whether the others will want it voiced is a different matter!
My boyfriend attempted to row around Britain in 2009 and he said his biggest challenge was not having enough sudocrem! What do you think is going to be yours?
I haven’t really thought about it, perhaps the lack of sleep. Honestly though, I think I’ll adapt to the lifestyle quite quickly!
Your Crowdfunding page says that you ‘want to change the world of sport’. What do you mean by this?
Part of our campaign is that we want to beat and set new world records regardless of gender.
To support Molly and The Rannoch Women’s Challenge, visit their website at http://rannochwomenschallenge.com