Scottish woman celebrates her world record breaking Atlantic crossing
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Taylor Winyard, 29, from Peebles, along with Tom Rose, 28, from Essex, and James Woolley, 37, from Leeds, rowed 3,000 miles in exactly 40 days and 37 minutes to become the first mixed trio to finish in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2021.
Such was their pace, the combination finished ahead of some teams with four rowers.
Ms Winyard said: “On the morning of Friday, January 21, we crossed the finish line in Antigua and our team – the Atlantic Nomads – became the fastest mixed trio to ever cross the Atlantic Ocean, setting a new world record.
"And I was the first woman to finish in this year's race."
Ms Winyard was still recovering after completing one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges, which sees rowers from across the world attempt to row 3,000 miles unsupported from the Canary Islands to Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua.
She said: “There were highs and lows everyday, but the crossing generally went very smoothly, although we did have issues with our GPS and autohelm in big seas.
"That was stressful – especially at night – because we had to hand steer.
"Luckily our coach Duncan Roy was at the end of the phone and helped us to fix it.”
The enormity of her and the team’s accomplishments was still sinking in. After originally planning to go as a four-person team, they left La Gomera on December 12 last year as a trio.
"We actually were a four-man team up until two weeks before the race start,” said Ms Winyard. “That brought challenges in itself, adapting to how the crossing would work as a trio.
"Instead of the typical two hours on, two hours off shift pattern a four-man team would do, we decided to do two hours on, one hour off as a three-man team. That was a gruelling and savage shift pattern to follow for 40 days and the constant battle against sleep deprivation was the hardest part.”
Ms Winyard spent a tonne of time on rowing machines and taking courses on everything from first aid to sea survival to prepare for the challenge. It was all worth it.
"Rowing into Nelson's Dockyard in English Harbour was absolutely incredible,” she said. “It was so emotional. We could hear the cheers and knew our families and friends were all there.
"My dad also surprised me – he wasn't meant to be coming out to Antigua. We could see the British flags and I could hear the sound of bagpipes. It was so special and crossing the line was such a relief.
"It was surreal seeing land again and we were just so delighted to have made it across safely. The world record was the icing on the cake.”
The effort was also worth it for the team’s designated charity Alabaré’s Homes for Veterans, which provides supported accommodation to homeless British Armed Forces veterans.
Ms Winyard admitted she will not be rushing out to row a boat anytime soon
She said: “We are all currently having a holiday with family and friends in Antigua. Our bodies are very sore and in need of a rest, but we have another week in Antigua before heading home.”