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Cornish woman hopes to be part of first all female team to row across the pacific

By West Briton  |  Posted: January 31, 2013

By Julian Ridge

  • Laura Penhale in rowing action

  • Laura Penhale, left, and co-rower Annabel Hancock.

  • The girls' boat which is currently under construction

  • This is what it will be like in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for the team on their 7,500-mile quest.

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A CORNISH physiotherapist is hoping to set a new world record by rowing across the Pacific Ocean with three other women.

Laura Penhale and her Coxless Rowers' team hope to complete the 7,500-mile journey in six months.

The former Redruth School and Truro College student is currently putting together a squad with her co-rower Annabel Hancock, from which the other two rowers will be selected.

Miss Penhale, 29, who grew up at Cambrose, near Portreath, is an elite sports physiotherapist and worked with the GB Paralympic team.

She said: "I work in disability sport and they are challenged on a daily basis.

"They wake up with a challenge every day, they don't have a choice, they don't bat an eyelid, they just get on with it.

"I want to be pushed physically and mentally, and to me putting up with a challenge for six months is nothing compared to someone who has to for a lifetime.

"There will be times when you might want to give up, but other people, who are perhaps fighting cancer, can't give up, they have no choice."

She and the team hope their trip will raise funds for Breast Cancer Care, as they all have friends or family who have been affected by the disease.

She said: "A patient of mine, a woman of 32, found out she had breast cancer while she was pregnant.

"They had to deliver the baby four months early, and she (the mum) had to undergo some pretty extreme surgery.

"Towards the end of her radiotherapy, she came to me for some physiotherapy, but unfortunately the stiff back was a sign of secondaries in her spine.

"She was a bubbly person, with a positive outlook on life and just wanted to get back to exercise and enjoy life with her family. Unfortunately, she died just two months ago, before her son had reached his first birthday.

"Her husband is very much in support of what we are doing and aiding in the fundraising."

Miss Penhale and the team will make the crossing in a 29ft boat with two small cabins.

They will row in pairs, two hours on and two hours off. The plan is to leave Long Beach, California, in June, and to stop at Hawaii and Samoa to help people keep track of their progress to the finishing line in Cairns, Australia. The back-up team includes elite coaches and sports psychologists.

The team is looking for funding/sponsorship to ensure the trip goes ahead.

If you think you can help, ring 07812 048895, e-mail at info@coxlessrowers.com and follow them on Facebook and Twitter Coxless Rowers.

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