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Bury St Edmunds paramedic Rachel prepares for extreme Indian Ocean rowing challenge




A Bury St Edmunds paramedic is preparing for the challenge of a lifetime and a world-first rowing attempt.

Rachel Hearn, 30, is set to row from mainland Australia to mainland Africa across the Indian Ocean in an unsupported challenge which is expected to take 100 days. If successful, she would be the first woman to do so.

The Brain Waves Challenge is two-part, with the first leg – an attempt to row across the Atlantic Ocean – starting last week.

Rachel Hearn Indian Ocean row. Picture by Adrian Scarbrough (26634777)
Rachel Hearn Indian Ocean row. Picture by Adrian Scarbrough (26634777)

After the first crew arrives in Antigua the boat will be shipped to Australia. Then, Rachel will join Billy Taylor, Alex Mason and John Haskell in the 29ft-long boat to take on the Indian Ocean in mid to late-April.

“I’m getting really excited,” said Rachel. “I have thrown myself in the deep end with this challenge but it is so huge I think it will be awesome. I couldn’t resist.”

Rachel has worked as race medic on remote desert and Arctic ultra-marathons, but decided to step off the sidelines.

Rachel Hearn Indian Ocean row. Picture by Adrian Scarbrough (26634772)
Rachel Hearn Indian Ocean row. Picture by Adrian Scarbrough (26634772)

“I meet all these people who take on these challenges and I know it’s time to do one for myself and not just be the one giving out blister plasters,” she said.

Being unsupported, the crew will have to deal with every eventuality at sea. They will have a satellite phone for emergencies, but it could take days for help to arrive. Meanwhile, the boat will be loaded with everything the crew needs, as there will be no turning back.

Rachel expects to experience sleep deprivation, extreme fatigue and weight loss, with only a shared cabin no larger than a small double bed for shelter.

Rachel Hearn Indian Ocean row. Picture by Adrian Scarbrough (26634781)
Rachel Hearn Indian Ocean row. Picture by Adrian Scarbrough (26634781)

The crew will row in pairs on a shift pattern of two hours rowing followed by two hours rest for the duration of the challenge.

“I think I’m resilient but I am trying to focus on getting physically fit now to help prevent injuries,” said Rachel. “I also need to put lots of weight on. I need to be fattening up as you lose so much weight at sea.”

She anticipates the lack of sleep to be the biggest challenge, as sleep is her ‘favourite hobby’. Rachel’s other hobbies include paddleboarding, kayaking and swimming.

The challenge aims to support research, awareness and fund-raising for Parkinson’s disease and PTSD.

More sponsors are needed. For information, go to www.monkeyfistadventures.com


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