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Team Antigua Island Girls Conquer the World’s Toughest Row – Pacific Challenge

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Three young women put the twin-island Caribbean nation of Antigua & Barbuda on the global marine map – again! On July 23, 2023, Team Antigua Island Girls – Christal Clashing, Kevinia Francis, and Samara Emmanuel – successfully rowed 2,800 nautical miles from Monterey Harbor, California to Hanalei Bay, in Kauai, Hawaii in the inaugural World’s Toughest Row – Pacific. They finished in 41 days, 7 hours, and 5 minutes, despite battling treacherous weather conditions that pushed them off course to the north on their approach to Hawaii. Overall, Team Antigua Island Girls finished second in the all-female class, third in trios, and 9th out of 14 boats with rowers representing the US, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.  Their craft was a Rannoch RX45 ocean rowing boat.

“The Pacific is for daredevils, it’s for thrill seekers and for those who want a life adventure,” said Francis, a three-time National Cyclist of the Year in Antigua & Barbuda, in a YouTube press conference at the race conclusion.

When Carsten Olson, CEO, and race director asked the team what they learned from the event, Emmanuel, the first Antiguan woman to become a RYA certified yacht captain, said, “that we can get through anything, any challenge, by teamwork.”

After suffering a cold start from California, near knockdown, and seasickness, Clashing’s response to her best moment of the race was “right now”, as the first female swimmer to represent Antigua & Barbuda at the Olympics at age 14 touched dry land and was greeted by family and friends.

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Each team has a fundraising effort and Team Antigua Island Girls is to construct a building to help young women in conflict with the law. Fundraising is still ongoing. www.antiguabarbudaislandgirls.com

In 2019, the trio plus Elvira Bell, who was unable to join in the Pacific, successfully paddled 3,000 nautical miles from La Gomera, Spain, to Antigua & Barbuda in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. www.worldstoughestrow.com 

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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