Last summer, my dear Antiguan sister, Marcella Andre, sent me a link to a rowing team from Antigua that she thought I might be interested in following. She was so right. Three of my personal favourites in one swoop: the Island of Antigua, the Sport of Rowing, and Women Doing Awesome Tings merging together to compete in this year’s Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge. How awesome is that?
The beautiful West Indian island of Antigua, my home for two years in the early 1990s, not only has a plethora of lovely beaches, but also two important harbors that have made Antigua a nautical powerhouse in the Caribbean region, from the years of Lord Horatio Nelson to the present 52nd Annual Antigua Annual Sailing Week 2019, running April 27-May 3 this year. It has also become the destination of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, a rowing challenge I can only begin to imagine from learning to row these past 4 years.
3000 miles of rowing! Incredible. Add to the challenge, a team of Antiguan women, Team Antigua Island Girls making history and I’m hooked.
There have been 12 other Atlantic Rowing Races since the first in 1997. During the first two Atlantic Rowing Races, in 1997 and 2001, boats departed from Playa San Juan, Tenerife and ended in Port St. Charles, Barbados. In 2003, boats departed from San Sebastian de la Gomera, but still arrived in Barbados. Except for 2011, boats departed Gomera but arrived in English Harbour, Antigua in 2004, 2005, 2009/10 (there was a month delay), 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. (Source: Wikipedia)
The first Antiguan crew, Team Wadadli, didn’t race until 2015.
Team Wadadli was followed by Team Antigua in 2017:
And now we have a group of Antiguan women making waves and taking names!
The 27 teams in this year’s competition left the Canary Islands on December 12, 2019 and as of this morning, Team Antigua Island Girls are now on track to arrive in Nelson Dockyard on Monday, January 28th between 4-6PM–2 days before they were originally projected to arrive!
The race itself is crazy!
The competition organizer, Atlantic Campaigns, runs a tight ship and has been really good with communication between the crews and ‘back home.’ It has been fascinating to follow the race vicariously through Facebook postings and the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge tracker. Here are some of the tracker’s screenshots:
The support for these women has been fantabulous. Hopefully you have been listening to the Burning Flames song that I posted at the introduction of this post: it was rewritten and re-released specifically for the girls. Following their Facebook page, local teachers have submitted videos of their students supporting the Island Girls and they are wonderfully adorable. Here is one example:
https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Felisaleah.graham%2Fvideos%2F2002558883144425%2F&show_text=0&width=261“>Students supporting the Island Girls
An artist, @redninko, even reimagined the team as comic book sheroes:
Essence Magazine posted an article on December 21, 2018, This Team of Black Women Rowers is Making History and the ladies were actually given a shoutout on ESPN’s SportsCenter:
Granted a polar vortex has set in here in the Midwest, so the warm Antigua weather is beaconing me to head to the islands–me wanna go!!!! Regardless, I would love to be in Antigua to see these ladies arrive this next week! The women of Team Antigua Island Girls are being welcomed home as national sheroes and with all of the preparations, it sounds as if they will be feted like it was Carnival!
And at the rate the ladies are moving, I’d better finish this post!!! I just saw that Team Antigua-Atlantic Rowers posted that the Island Girls are within 100 miles of Antigua and are now expected to arrive almost 12 hours earlier than projected this morning!
Awesome row, Team Antigua Island Girls!!! Congratulations!!!
All de bes’
P.S. If anyone (hint: Marcella…) on Antigua can pick me up a shirt–or one of those hoodies (it is cold here!!!!)–I would be truly grateful. We can talk logistics after the hoopla has settled down. xoxo