The Virgin Trophy Virgin GB Row Challenge GB Row Challenge
Samsung Wave phones used by the crews
donate to Help for Heroes
51 days 16 hours 42 minutes
- (provisional) World Record set in Virgin GB Row 2010
JM Yachting
Home
Latest Location Map
Donate
Photos
The Teams
The Virgin Trophy
About Virgin GB Row
Press Articles
2005 World Record
Entry Forms
Venue and Route
Training
Social Media
Support Services
Schedule
Sponsors
Charity
Friends of the Challenge
Contact
 
   
Donate

Latest News

Follow us on Youtube and Twitter

Latest photos on our new Photo page.
 

Latest video from the boats now on our YouTube channel

Follow us on Twitter

Latest messages from celebrity wellwishers:

From Richard Branson:

"Go Seagals!!! I knew I was right to back to girls in beating the boys in the first ever Virgin GB Row and Iím over the moon that such brave women have achieved a World Record in such a spectacular fashion!

This is why we set up the Virgin Trophy - Belinda, Angela, Laura and Beverley have pushed through extreme tiredness, hunger and serious injury to battle on and achieve the goal they set out to achieve.

Britain has something to be proud of this summer after all! I hope they will get all of Britainís support when they record up the Thames on Thursday to claim their World Record and the Trophy!

SIR RICHARD BRANSON, Chairman Virgin Group

 

From Boris Johnson:

I can only imagine how welcoming and serene the Thames must have seemed for these brave rowers after overcoming the perils of the stormy waters around the coast of Britain.

This is an extraordinary achievement and I congratulate the team on setting this record. I hope their spirit of adventure encourages others to take up sporting challenges as the country aims for success in London 2012

BORIS JOHNSON Mayor of London

 

From Carol Vorderman:

Well done to the Seagals! It was fantastic to hear of a team of women doing such a fantastic feat. Iím counting you down to the finish! Go Seagals!

TV presenter CAROL VORDERMAN

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter. We’ll post them on the websites and send them straight to the boat.

 

Latest Blog Posts

July 18 Video Blog from Bev sent July 18 18.56hrs 

 

 July 19 Birthday Blog from Belinda Kirk near Lowestoft
 

Captain Kirk's log
18th July 1800hrs
Mundesley clear skies. 15-knot offshore winds.
 

Birthday at sea.
 
Thanks to everyone for making my birthday a little special. I wasn't planning on spending it on Go Commando but it has turned out to be one to remember.

Thanks for my presents of sweets and nuts (the highest prized items onboard yum!) and to Laura's mum for providing the 'birthday' fruit cake.

 

Belinda's birthday cake

Thanks also for all the texts and phone calls yesterday. Being at sea for so long makes me realise just how lucky I am to be returning to celebrate with such an amazing bunch of friends and family.

See you soon
 

 


July 18 Blog from skipper Belinda Kirk sent July 18 07.15

Captain Kirk’s log. Life on anchor.
14th July
 

1730 hrs finish look out shift on deck and climb back into the cabin. Everything I'm wearing is wet apart from the top two thirds of my thermal top and fleece.

Peel off the wet stuff to get three dry-ish hours in a sleeping bag. Cabin ceiling is dripping with condensation and all our gear is rattling with the vibrations

2015 woken by Angela shouting '15 minutes'. Drag my legs out of my damp but wonderfully warm sleeping bag. Pull on cold damp leggings and socks, then dripping wet foulies and sodden wellies.

2030 'Time to change!' bellowed outside. Sit on deck and get hit by waves sit on deck and get hit by waves ...sit on deck........etc... Huddle over waterlogged stove..takes 90 minutes to re-hydrate two meals, Bev and I eat them with a sprinkling of saltwater

2330 Yeah! Go back inside, take off wet stuff, eat energy bar, have damp sleep

0215 Oh, no not again

0230 Sit on deck and get hit by waves etc etc try to tell Bev a rubbish joke but it’s lost in the noise of the wind. Hide in bivi bag

0400 the weather is still bad and the tide is turning. We are hit by some monster waves. Now we all need to be inside because the increased risk of capsizing.
Three of us cram into stern cabin for three hrs. Not comfortable but hilarious

0830 Here we go again... sit on deck and get hit by waves

1130 Back inside cabin play Russian roulette with the waves opening the cabin door when they don't splash so I can brush my teeth.

1430 sit.....deck...waves...etc

1500 weather improving. Listen to "Viking radio station" chat to Bev about her cottage and Alaska. Make nice cup of tea

1600 seal pops his head up. Comes back three times. My Pentax camera won't switch on – it’s supposed to be waterproof but this exped has killed it. It feels like nothing is waterproof on thIs boat.

1630 the wind really has dropped.....I put the water maker on and secure the filter that starts spraying everywhere when I turn it on.

We haven't made water for two days because it’s been so rough. Good, one issue solved. This ocean rowing lark is so much easier when the weather behaves

1700 do you fancy rowing, Bev?

1715 We pull up the anchor (after 48hrs!!!!) 1730 row! row! Row! Wow! Whoaaaah!!!! 5knots!!!!!

Cross the Humber amazing sunset - possibly best ever.

Keep on rowing....Happy days
 

Blog from Bev's mum aka Scottie Ross in Gateshead...July 16

Hi Seagals!

Bev's aunt in Glasgow phoned last night to say there'd been a bit about your expedition on Radio Scotland and that some music had been played dedicated to you.

Thought you'd like to know :)
 


Blog from Royal Navy nurse Laura Thomasson on Go Commando north of Hull

July 15 18.04
 

It has taken me a little while to write this blog. In truth I have been trying to deal with the close call that Angela and I had with a ship when approaching Whitby.

If it had not been for the fast, calm and effective work of Humber coastguard God knows what would have happened to us.

Humber coastguard quickly intercepted a VHF call when I had tried to contact an oncoming ship earlier that shift, so when I saw another ship heading right at us I spared no time in contacting the coastguard.

He swiftly identified the ship and established contact with the bridge. I could hear their radio conversation and began to worry when I heard the ship’s officer repeating that he could not see us.

We could clearly see him and, as he came nearer, we could see his central white light and port and starboard red and green lights either side; a sure sign that were head on for a collision.

When reporting this to coastguard he wasted no time in telling us to put up a flare.

Angela quickly fired a white flare, sustaining a left index finger injury in the process and we watched with bated breath to see if the ship would react to the flare.

I could hear the ship's officer reporting to the coastguard that he could see the flare and the coastguard calmly told the ship to turn in an easterly direction away from the flare light. The ship's officer sounded very panicked as he reported, "I see them, I see them."

The ship slowly began to turn away from us and silently passed by our little boat leaving barely 50metres between us. They could have spat on us from their deck!

The pain in Angela's finger began to kick in once the adrenaline subsided and with shaky hands I dressed a small cut on her knuckle and splinted the finger until it could be assessed in daylight.

The realisation of how close we had been to a terrible situation began to be felt by us all. If it hadn't have been for the brilliant work of Humber coastguard then we may not have been here to tell the tale.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.


Flare Guns do Kick by Angela

July 13, 2010

 

In the middle of the night on July 13, 2010, Angela and Laura took to the oars.

They requested Bel give them the VHF Radio and turn on the SeaMe.

Just after the start of their shift, they called the Coast Guard to advise that there was a big ship headed toward them.

They were able to get the ship to change course.

Shortly after that, there was another big ship headed toward them. They again called the Coast Guard who contacted the ship.

That ship’s captain had some difficulty understanding what the Coast Guard was saying.

They said they could not see Go Commando and they kept on their collision course.

Angela reached for the flare gun and shot up a white, anti-collision, flare.

She heard the ship’s captain tell the Coast Guard they had seen the flare and were changing course.

Angela said it was the closest call with a big ship in all of her 166 days at sea in 3 ocean crossings.

There was a casualty of the encounter.

When Angela shot the flare gun, it had a big kick.

She has a large cut on her hand, broke her left index finger, and other bones in her hand.

 

Angela's broken hand

Apparently, her homecoming on Tuesday will include a visit to her favorite doctor, Dr. G, at the Long Beach Veteran’s Hospital.

So if you see Angela trying to make her way around London pushing her chair with one hand, give her some kindness.

 

older blog entries »

BBC Countryfile pre-race interviews with the Seagals, June 13: view on BBC iPlayer (item starts 38 minutes into the programme)
 

14.00 FRIDAY JULY 23 LATEST

Approaching the finish

Approaching the finish

The Seagals are home at last...to a heroine's welcome and a new World Record after 51 days 16 hours and 42 minutes. The all female crew of Go Commando completed the Virgin GB Row Challenge at 10.23BST today.

The Seagals are greeted by the London fireboat

The Seagals are greeted by the London fireboat

They arrived at Tower Bridge in London to a fanfare welcome from a fireboat.

The girls began celebrating the end of their incredible 2000 mile journey the moment Go Commando's nose went under the historic bridge.

The Seagals celebrate their arrival at Tower Bridge

The Seagals celebrate their arrival at Tower Bridge

Later they were reunited with their families at HMS President and presented with the Virgin Trophy.

Team with the Virgin Trophy

The team with the Virgin Trophy

The World Record tracking data and photographic evidence will be presented to Guinness for validation as a Guinness World Record.

11.00 FRIDAY JULY 23 LATEST

They're home!

The Seagals passed under London's Tower Bridge at 10.23am this morning, setting a new Guinness world record of 51 days 16 hours and 42 minutes for an all-female crew rowing unaided around Britain.

The exhausted but jubilant crew - Belinda, Angela, Bev and Laura - are now reunited with their families at HMS President just downstream from Tower Bridge.

They will shortly be presented with the Virgin Trophy for their valiant efforts in setting a new record in their 2010 mile journey.

There will be more news and photos shortly!

04.30 FRIDAY JULY 23 LATEST

Your Messages 'are the power behind the boat..' The Seagals
The Seagals will be arriving at Tower Bridge on Friday July 23 at 10.00 approx.

The final day! The Seagals will be home today after an astonishing 51 days at sea rowing around Britain.

Later this morning they will take their place in history as the first females ever to row the 2,000 miles around the country in the Virgin GB Row Challenge.

The Haigh Lyon Seagals and their tiny boat Go Commando are anchored near Belvedere about four miles downstream from the Thames barrier waiting for the tide to turn to take them on their final leg to Tower Bridge, where they are expected at around 10am.

Go Seagals!


21.00 THURSDAY JULY 22 LATEST
 

The Seagals are on the last leg home…Despite what the tracker is showing, the Haigh Lyon Seagals have left Canvey Island behind and are making their way up the River Thames on the flood tide.

They hope to be at Woolwich by 6am to be interviewed live by GMTV on ITV 1 in the morning at around 06.40.

They are also booked to do interviews with radio stations as they continue up the river past the Thames barrier.

We expect the Seagals to reach Tower Bridge sometime around 10.00, when their unbelievable journey will finally end after an incredible 51 days.

More than seven weeks after the left London, the Seagals will be reunited with family and friends who will be at HMS President, situated just below the bridge, to help them celebrate their amazing achievement.

The Seagals truly deserve their place in the annals of rowing history for winning the Anglo American Boat Race: Virgin GB Row 2010 – officially the toughest rowing race in the world. 
 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

Dear Seagals,

You are nearly there girls, having had unexepected rough weather, you have battled on.........I am delighted and proud that you have lasted the course........have some rest when you get home, you really have made us all proud!

xx Love from Bev's aunt Sheilagh xx

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter. We’ll post them on the websites and send them straight to the boat.

 

10.23 THURSDAY JULY 22 LATEST
 

Organisors of Virgin GB Row 2010 have confirmed that the Haigh Lyon Seagals will now finish their epic round-Britain row tomorrow morning (Friday, July 23) at between 10.00 and 12.00.

We will monitor Go Commando’s progress up the Thames during the day and revise the expected finish time.

The boat will go through the finish at Tower Bridge, then come back down the river for photos with Tower Bridge as the backdrop, before mooring on the pontoon at HMS President.

 

 06.30 THURSDAY JULY 22 UPDATE

On what should have been the day of their return, The Seagals are at anchor near Southend –on-Sea at the mouth of the River Thames waiting to begin the final row in to Tower Bridge.

 

Angela whilst waiting at anchor earlier this week
Angela July 19
Laura whilst waiting at anchor earlier this week
Laura July 19

The Haigh Lyon Seagals are running low on water because a power failure on board Go Commando means they have not been able to make water since Tuesday.

The electrical problems also mean it has been difficult to contact the boat as mobiles are turned off for long periods but race organisors expect to make contact with the Seagals at around 0800 and we should have an update on when they are now likely to finish.

 

 

19.09 WEDNESDAY JULY 21 LATEST
 

The Seagals will NOT be arriving at Tower Bridge (Thursday).

Finish DELAYED by a day until FRIDAY, July 23 at 12.30 approx.

They have been battling 20mile an hour head winds all day today and missed the tide that would take them into the Thames in time for the tide that would take them to Tower Bridge for tomorrow.

They are disappointed.

More follows later….


1800 WEDNESDAY JULY 21 LATEST
 

Without power and running low on water, the Seagals are heading for the mouth of the Rover Thames on their incredible 2,000-mile row around Britain.

Low power has meant we have not been able to communicate with Go Commando for much of the day and we’re all hoping they reach the mouth of the Thames in time to take advantage of the tide that rips towards London in excess of eight knots in places.

They are heading in towards Southend, where they may be able to make contact on the mobile phone that thy are using sparingly.
 
We are keeping our fingers crossed that they will arrive at Tower Bridge at high tide in 18 hours’ time - after 50 DAYS AT SEA.

 

0700 WEDNESDAY JULY 21 UPDATE


At the start of their last full day at sea, the Haigh Lyon Seagals are at anchor about ten miles from Southend-on-Sea.

After managing to row five miles during the night, the all-female crew are waiting for the tide to turn to help them in the mouth of the River Thames to begin the final leg of their incredible 2,000-mile journey.

With electricity down to a minimum, following problems with the boat’s solar regulator, which converts power from the on-board solar panels into Go Commando’s battery packs, it has been difficult to communicate with the crew.

But we still expect Belinda, Angela, Laura and Bev to reach the finish line at Tower Bridge tomorrow morning at around 11.30.
 

20.30 TUESDAY JULY 20 UPDATE
 

Electrics are still causing problems for the Seagals on board Go Commando, where the crew have introduced water rationing.

With energy from the boat’s solar panels unable to reach the batteries, the Haigh Lyon Seagals have taken the decision to reduce all but the most essential power on the boat.

That includes cutting power to the water maker and the on-board tracker. Luckily, they had just made a batch of drinking water by putting seawater through the water maker and with rationing will have just enough water to get to them to the finish.

Tracking is now from a back-up hand-held tracker, which means our tracking on the website is slightly out of date.

At the moment the tracker, kindly supplied by MarineTrak, is showing the Seagals are doing 0.00 knots but in reality they are rowing well and are south of Clacton in Essex.

In light easterly winds, they are heading out to sea to try and avoid the treacherous Maplin Sands, near Southend, where the 2005 round-Britain crew ran aground and were forced to waste six hours.

The Seagals have no time to waste to stay on track for their planned finish at Tower Bridge in London at high tide on Thursday, which is at just after 11.30


12.30 Tuesday July 20 LATEST

Problems with the electrics have developed on Go Commando this morning, which means the Seagals have had to dramatically reduce their power output for the time being.

They are switching to a stand-by tracker, which will continue to monitor their progress.

The previous tracker is still showing the all-female crew are at anchor but they are in fact rowing past the mouth of the River Deben just north of Felixstowe.

Low batteries mean that communications with the boat could be limited this afternoon.

Angela is trying to sort out the problem with the solar regular, which means the power collected by the boat’s solar panels is not being transferred to the batteries.


 

06.30 Tuesday July 20 UPDATE
The journey home continues for the Haigh Lyon Seagals. The all-female crew in their boat, Go Commando, rowed another 15 miles during the night and are now less than 10 miles north of Europe’s biggest container port at Felixstowe.

With light southerly winds forecast today they should stay on target for finishing at Tower Bridge in London at around 11.30 on Thursday.
 

22.00 Monday July 19
UPDATE
 

The Seagals are at anchor near Dunwich waiting for the tide to turn again.

According to a new video in today, which is on our YouTube Channel, the all-female crew expect to be heading towards the container port at Felixstowe during the night.


17.00 Monday July 19 UPDATE
 

The countdown to the finish has begun…the Haigh Lyon Seagals passed the pretty Suffolk seaside town of Southwold on the final leg of their journey home.

The calculations have been done and the all-female crew of Go Commando are planning to bring their tiny boat across the finish line on Thursday on the flood tide at around 11.30.

Their epic journey will finish when they go under Tower Bridge – an astonishing 50 days after leaving London at the start of their incredible 2,010-mile journey around the coast of Britain in the Virgin GB Row challenge.

Loved ones will gather at HMS President near St Katherine’s dock to welcome home the amazing Seagals.

Keep watching our on-line tracker to chart their progress on the last 100 or so miles to the finish.

And keep your messages of support coming....
 

This message is from Bev's grandad.

I have been following you all along on my map of Great Britain. When I find out where you are I have to look it up on the map and I am so proud of what you have achieved already. I came down to see you at John O'Groats and was amazed to see you going through the firth. I hope the last miles go speedily for you once you get going and I will be thinking about you and egging you on.
Lots of love
Grandad xxx


08.30 Monday July 19
UPDATE 
 

So near yet so far…. The amazing Haigh Lyon Seagals are so tantalisingly close to the finish but the southerly wind is still causing problems for them.

The all-female crew of Go Commando are again at anchor, just south of Lowestoft, waiting for the southerly head wind to drop enough to let them continue rowing. They made well over 20miles during the night.

Meanwhile, thanks for your messages of support…keep them coming, folks! They give the Seagals such a boost at the end of their incredible 2,010-mile journey rowing around Britain.
 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

Dear Seagals,

Every few hours I check on your progress, I wow you and exhale lots of air and then I think 'thank goodness I am not on that boat'. You are all exceptional, strong willed and determined members of the female race. I wish I could be there to meet you in London. Good luck for the last few days.

We love you!!
Jacki Hill-Murphy
Hello Bev and Girls,

Hope the wind goes down shortly and you get a speedy row home to London.

We are all thinking of you every day and look to see how you are getting on and where you are.

You deserve all the luxuries that we hope are awaiting you and will be glad for you all.

Safe journey
 

Love
Marilyn & Gordon xx

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter. We’ll post them on the websites and send them straight to the boat.

 

21.00 Sunday July 18
UPDATE 

The Haigh Lyon Seagals are still at anchor, waiting for the wind and tide to come back in their favour.

Meanwhile, we’ve received a video blog from Bev, filmed just before the big storm that held up the Seagals for 48 hours.

In her video blog she reveals that messages from their supporters ‘are the power behind the boat’.

Please keep your messages coming and we’ll pass them on to Seagals on Go Commando – and get them home as quickly as possible…

 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

Message for Belinda from her friend Rachel:

Happy Birthday!

Mum found an old photo of us,thought it would make you laugh!

Can't believe you are not back to celebrate your birthday we were really looking forward to seeing you.Hopefully the wind will not slow you down too much more and we will see you Monday.

I have been following the website and think you are doing so well.

Everyone is so proud of what you have all achieved it really is fantastic.

Not long now and you will be home

We miss you and cant wait to hear all about it when you get back

Loads of love

Rachel

Happy Birthday Belinda
Birthday Girl Belinda and her friend Rachel

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter. We’ll post them on the websites and send them straight to the boat.

 

 


 

18.00 Sunday July 18
UPDATE
 

Apologies for the radio silence over the last 48 hours, due to a poor dongle signal. Normal service has been resumed.

The Haigh Lyon Seagals have made amazing progress over the weekend, since upping anchor on Friday night to make the crossing from the Humber to the north Norfolk coast.

At times they were travelling at more than six knots in their tiny ocean rowing boat, Go Commando.

They reached the coast near Sheringham and today have made their way south towards Great Yarmouth.

This evening they are at anchor close in to the shore near Horsey, just north of Yarmouth.

Skipper Belinda Kirk reported that the wind had got up again and the Seagals were out in choppy water and they were coming close to the shore to get protection from the westerly wind.

A debate has begun on whether the Seagals’ epic 2,010 mile journey will end in London on Wednesday or Thursday.

The crew and the Anglo American Boat Club, organisors of the Virgin GB Row Challenge 2010, are poring over charts and weather maps to try to give an accurate estimate of the time the Seagals amazing adventure will end.

Look out during the evening for new blogs and video from the all-female crew who are about to make history.


PS Happy Birthday Belinda from everyone following the incredible Seagals.

 

19.30 Friday July 16
UPDATE
 

And they’re off! The Haigh Lyon Seagals have caught the tide at the mouth of the Humber just right and they’re rowing at nearly nine knots – well over 10mph.

After two days stuck at anchor they’re making the best of the dropping wind to head south towards the finish as fast as possible. Go Seagals!

 

15.30 Friday July 16
UPDATE
 


After two days at anchor near Hull, we expect the Seagals to start rowing again in about three hours.

They have been buffeted by horrendous 50-knot winds and huge swells for 48 hours, but last night the storm was so bad that Belinda, Angela and Bev crammed into the miniscule aft cabin to shelter from the waves crashing over the boat.

Belinda says: “It’s really wet in the aft cabin and it was very cosy but the storm and the waves were so bad it was impossible to sit out in the open, which we managed to do every day since we started our journey.”

The Segals are now hoping to reach the finish at Tower Bridge in London by high tide on Thursday afternoon.

 

06.30 Friday July 16
UPDATE
 

As the Haigh Lyon Seagals prepare to spend yet another day anchored just to the north of the Humber Estuary, plans for their homecoming are being revised.

The southerly wind that has kept them trapped on the east Yorkshire coast, is expected to abate this evening, which will allow the all-female crew of Go Commando to cross the Humber and continue south.

But the winds are expected to increase again on and off during the next few days, which could slow progress again.

It now looks like, the Seagals could finish their remarkable journey at Tower Bridge next Wednesday, July 21st.

 

The RNLI Crew from Eyemouth visit the Seagals
RNLI Crew from Eyemouth visiting the Seagals

21.00 Thursday July 15
UPDATE


Humber coastguard has issued a storm Force 8 warning for the east coast of Yorkshire.

The Haigh Lyon Seagals are safely at anchor just north of Spurn Point near the mouth of the River Humber.

After rowing hell for leather for the last two days, the all-female crew are using the time to catch up on sleep ready to make a last dash south as soon as the wind drops, possibly tomorrow.

In a brief phone call from Go Commando, Bev Ashton said the Seagals’ own weather expert did not expect the wind in the area to reach Force Eight but would most likely peak at 25knots (Force 5-6) before dying back down on Friday night.

With at least four days rowing ahead of them, the Virgin GB Row organisors are re-scheduling the finish, which was expected on Monday, until Tuesday at the earliest.

Said Bev: “We seem to have an uncanny knack of anchoring in spots with poor mobile reception. We have lots of blogs and video ready but we can’t send them, yet!”