What an achievement!

28th January 2021

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After 3,000 miles, the Bristol Gulls have rowed into Antigua!

They spent a month-and-a-half at sea, but Sofia Deambrosi and her three fellow rowers have now completed their Talisker Whisky Challenge across the Atlantic.

They set off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on 12 December in their eco-boat. The Vaquita is made from recycled plastic (the first ever in the Talisker Challenge), and was named after a critically endangered species of porpoise. The Gulls undertook their challenge to raise awareness of ocean sustainability.

“Brunel is enormously proud of Sofia and the Gulls – what a feat!” said Laura Chappell, CEO at Brunel Pension Partnership. “We love how they’ve used this crazy challenge to raise the profile of ocean sustainability, as if the challenge itself wasn’t enough to worry about! We look forward to celebrating properly with Sofia once we’re finally back in the office.”

The Gulls encountered whales, some of which approached and swam under the boat – at one point, an entire pod swung by to greet them. Flying fish came closer still – Sofia took a hit to the shoulder from one airborne visitor. At times, the ocean bioluminescence lit up every oar stroke. And the women did take the chance to swim although, even then, they had a job to do, namely, scrape the barnacles off the hull!

At times, things were far less picturesque – and not just because they realised much of the coffee they’d gone and brought was …. decaffeinated! The weather varied hugely, ranging from the high 30s down to freezing. On Day 31, two huge waves hit the boat in succession and Sofia, who was on deck at the time, experienced a full 360-degree flip of the boat – an oar was lost and the M&Ms were soaked. And they still had 1,000 miles to go!

They reached speeds of 12 knots but, when the winds were against, this could drop to just one. When they needed rewards, they would celebrate with gingernut biscuits, wine gums, tinned fruit, jerky and marmite on mini cheddars.

The Gulls used crowdfunding to support their costs and aim to recover the majority of this money after the race by re-selling the boat and equipment. All profits will go to Portishead RNLI and Clean Up Bristol Harbour.

You can watch the Gulls arrive in Antigua (screengrab above) on their Facebook page: https://fb.watch/3hrz-wgfRQ/

Brunel is hugely proud of Sofia and her Gulls. Congratulations to you all – and we hope you can celebrate with something a bit better than marmite on cheddars!


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