Antiguan quartet completes historic Atlantic row

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(Antigua Observer) – After battling sea sickness, fatigue, a near capsize on Friday night, and other obstacles, the four women making up the Team Antigua Island Girls rowed into the historic Nelson’s Dockyard Monday afternoon, and into the records books as the first all-black female team to row across the Atlantic.

A red-carpet welcome awaited the four “Sheroes” who completed the 3000-mile journey, which lasted over 40 days, with their participation in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – dubbed the world’s toughest row, and the premier ocean-rowing experience that begins in La Gomera in the Canary Islands.

The four – Kevinia Francis, Elvira Bell, Christal Clashing and Samara Emanuel (Junella King was the alternate) – were embraced by teary-eyed family members, friends and well-wishers who journeyed to Nelson’s Dockyard hours ahead of their much-anticipated arrival at 2 p.m on Monday.

The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda shortened its Budget Debate as parliamentarians from both sides, as well as a sea of residents journeyed to English Harbour to welcome the team.

The team began the cross-Atlantic row on 12 December 2018 for the 3,000-mile journey that culminated at English Harbour.

Throughout the journey there was an outpouring of love and support for the which was seeking to raise funds for the Cottage of Hope, a shelter which offers short and long-term residency to girls who are abused, neglected or orphaned.

The Antigua and Barbuda Marine Association (ABMA) was one of the entities to join in solidarity with the quartet of pioneering females by organising a rowing event at the Antigua Yacht Club where four rowing machines were set up and individuals invited to row for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour. For each time slot, various monetary donations were made – $28 for 15 minutes, $35 for 30 minutes, and $50 for one hour.

Team Antigua Island Girls recieved a gift presented by Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, The Hon. Gaston Browne and Maria Bird-Browne. (Photos Courtesy HaMafilms, Antigua)

Media personality Petra Williams also pledged on social media that she would do push-ups every day until the female rowers arrive back home. On the weekend Williams stated, “Not sure which I am happier for, Team Antigua Island Girls are one day out or the last days of push-ups!!! Their persistence through many challenges has been amazing. A definite beacon and reminder to all of us that even though life gets rough, buckle down and do it”.

Noted soca artiste Claudette “CP” Peters launched a no-sugar campaign, intended to last until the team’s arrival. Renowned soca artiste King Onyan of ‘Burning Flames’ fame did a remake of the 1989 Island Girl hit in honour of the first all-female black rowing team.

Schools and other organisations hosted their own events and posted videos on the team’s Facebook page under the caption #RowandComeEen!. Nationals also purchased Team Antigua Island Girls shirts as a show of support.


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