It’s row time: Our Island Girls tackle the Pacific

front 4 row time
Team Antigua Island Girls, left to right: Samara Emmanuel, Kevinia Francis, and Christal Clashing (Photo courtesy: World’s Toughest Row)
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By Charminae George

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“We are feeling ready,” Kevinia Francis, captain of our very own Team Antigua Island Girls told Observer on Friday.

The highly anticipated Pacific row is scheduled to start on June 12 (today).

 “We have completed all of our mandatory checks. So we went on Friday for our confirmatory row. Our water maker is working…all of our safety gear have passed the inspection, all our communication devices are working.”

Recently, Elvira Bell, a member of the initial four-member rowing team had to withdraw due to personal and uncontrollable circumstances. However, Francis indicated that Bell will be assisting the team’s land support.

“From inception, our mantra has been ‘keep rowing no matter what happens’. Due to personal, uncontrollable circumstances, she was unable to continue with the team. She is however, helping with our land support,” she said.

The rowing team currently comprises Kevinia Francis, Christal Clashing, and Samara Emmanuel.

She added that the only thing that has shifted due to the change is the team’s rowing strategy.

“When we were four, it was two on, two off, for two hours at a time. Now we’re shifting to two hours on, one hour off, for most of the daytime hours, and then at night, one hour on, two hours off,” she explained.

Francis mentioned that there has been preparation for possible seasickness, since it occurred during the first few days of their row across the Atlantic.

“Hopefully, we have no seasickness. We do have this time around, seasickness patches, because some of us had gotten seasick on the Atlantic for the first couple of days,” she stated.

“If seasickness comes, ‘feed the fish’ and keep rowing until it subsides…We are ready and prepared for if that happens, to keep rowing,” she added.

On behalf of the team, Francis thanked the general public for their support.

“To the general public, we would like to say thank you for your continued support.”

Regarding the team’s fundraising effort to ultimately construct a building to house girls who are in conflict with the law, unfortunately, the teams target goal of EC$500,000 has not been met.

To date, the team has raised approximately EC$175,000.

 “We haven’t met our fundraising target, so we welcome any and every donation, nothing is too small. And again, thank you to all those who have supported us,” she said.

Donations can be made via the Caribbean Union Bank (CUB) account under the team’s name, or via their GoFundMe account, ‘Team Antigua Island Girls…Back on the Row Again’.

The ‘World’s Toughest Row – Pacific’, a 2,800 nautical mile row will depart from Monterey Harbor, California, and end at Hanalei Bay in Kauai, Hawaii. The average crossing time for all crew is 62 days, which the Island Girls are aiming for under 40 days.

Approximately four years ago, the then four-member team made history when they completed the grueling 3,000 nautical miles of the ‘World’s Toughest Row -Atlantic’. They were the first all-Black team to complete the challenge.

Who are they?

We’ve all come to know and love out Team Antigua Island Girls, and we revel in every little tid-bit about them. Here’s some more:

Kevinia Francis is a certified health-and-fitness trainer and youth fitness specialist by profession. She is a three times National Cyclist of the Year, and also excels in the sports of basketball, martial arts, and track and field.

Samara Emmanuel is a certified day skipper, coastal skipper, yacht master and boat master. She is the first Antiguan woman to become a RYA certified yacht captain, and has a passion for racing and delivering boats.

Christal Clashing is an adventure guide, pool-and-open water swimming and stand-up paddling instructor, and free diver. At age 14, she was the first female swimmer to represent Antigua and Barbuda at the Olympics. Also, she is the author of ‘Yemoja’s Anansi’, which is a re-imagination of the Anansi stories. (Information courtesy: Team Antigua Island Girls Facebook Page)

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