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Hartest’s Bella’s all-girl Atlantic challenge

Row Like a Girl team: Olivia Bolesworth, Lauren Morton, Gee Purdy and Bella Collins, courtesy of Sophie Bolesworth Photography
Row Like a Girl team: Olivia Bolesworth, Lauren Morton, Gee Purdy and Bella Collins, courtesy of Sophie Bolesworth Photography

A brave Hartest woman is hoping to break a world record when she rows across the Atlantic with the star of a reality TV survival show.

Bella Collins, 22, is part of an all-girl team preparing to tackle one of the toughest challenges in the world, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

She will set off on December 15 joined by friends Olivia Bolesworth, Gee Purdy and Lauren Morton – who is currently starring in Channel 4’s The Island with Bear Grylls.

They hope to complete the mammoth voyage in less than 48 days to become the world’s fastest four to row the Atlantic, and are aiming to raise at least£50,000 for Plan UK’s Because I am a Girl campaign along the way.

Bella, a brand and marketing assistant who used to work at LP, in Bury St Edmunds, said: “We will face salt sores, blisters, infections, muscle damage and depletion but the solitary confinement might be our biggest challenge as four of us will live in a space the size of a bathtub for two months.”

Skipper Lauren previously attempted the challenge in 2013 but had to be rescued after 96 days at sea.

She said: “In an emergency situation a rescue can be two or three days away, and we will be extremely vulnerable to whales, sharks and shipping lanes, let alone extreme weather and isolation.”

The aptly-named Row Like a Girl team will take all of their supplies on board and will need to row non-stop, in two hour shift patterns, for 3,000 miles, facing storms, extreme temperatures, waves of up to 40ft and vessels up to 30 times the size of their boat.

“I think it would be naive not to be scared,” said Bella. “I am scared, but I’m also excited to put myself through that challenge.

“I’ve never pushed myself like that before so I’m interested to see how I react and how we react to it as a team.”

She wants their efforts to inspire girls to believe in themselves, an important message echoed by Plan UK, which fights for girls’ rights around the world.

She is also determined to claim a title ‘for the girls’ as her uncle, Charlie Pitcher, holds the world record for the fastest solo crossing of the Atlantic in a rowing boat and her older brother, Angus Collins, hit the record books last year as part of the fastest four man crew to cross the Indian Ocean.

To support the team – labelled ‘gutsy, committed and brave’ by Bear Grylls – visit www.rowlikeagirl.uk

To find out more about the charity, go to www.plan-uk.org

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