Graduates Complete 'World's Toughest Row' After Crossing Atlantic

Team Ace of Blades approaching the finish line after rowing across the Atlantic

On 29 January 2024, Bicester based Laura Langton and Bristol based Katherine (Kit) Windsor arrived in Antigua after rowing 3,000 miles unassisted across the Atlantic when they competed in ‘The World’s Toughest Row – Atlantic’ (formerly known as the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.)

Laura and Kit, together with teammates Beth Motley and Lizz Watson, as team Ace of Blades, left San Sebastian de la Gomera on the 13th December 2023, making landfall on 29th January 2024 when they crossed the finish line in Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour Antigua.

Completing the epic journey in a time of 47 days, 7 hours and 27 minutes, the foursome has raised over £70,000 for four charities close to their hearts: Prostate Cymru, The Outward Bound Trust, The Charlie Waller Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Kit ( Conservation Biology, 2014, Bowland) and Laura (History, 2015, Cartmel) met at the Lancaster University Boat Club in 2012 and have remained firm friends since. Both were involved in other sports at university, representing Lancaster at Roses in water polo and netball respectively, as well as rowing against York.

For the duration of the journey the team rowed in shift patterns of two hours on two hours, burning through over 5,000 calories a day, while enduring salt sores, blisters, sleep deprivation and sea sickness. They regularly encountered 30 ft waves and winds of up to 30 mph which threatened to capsize the boat and they also had to grapple with several technical trials and tribulations.

“Eleven days into the race a window in the weather gave us the opportunity to get into the ocean to clean the hull of our boat and remove the build-up of barnacles that would otherwise serve to slow down our progress if we left them’, explains Kit Windsor. ‘It was only then it came to light that the dagger board which stabilises the boat had been sheared clean off by the rough seas we’d been encountering until that point.”

“Problems with the auto tiller used to help steer the boat meant that at certain points we had to adjust our shift patterns to three hours on one hour off so someone could hand steer the boat to keep us on course,” Laura continues. “In addition, issues we had with the water maker used to desalinate sea water to provide us with drinking water had experts back on land scratching their heads after they revealed they had never encountered anything like it before.

“It’s not unusual for boats to experience any one of these problems while making the crossing; however, encountering all three added to the challenges we faced, eating into vital rest periods so we could address them. Thankfully, all the training and technical preparation we undertook in the run up to the row prepared us for troubleshooting any issues that arose and enabled us to overcome anything that the boat and Mother Nature could throw at us.”

Reflecting on the Atlantic

To cross the starting line in December 2023, preparation and training started back in 2021, with the team clocking up over 200 hours of training rows around the UK coastline in their boat SS1, while organising fundraising events and working to secure corporate sponsorship to fund the challenge.

Having completed the row, the crew has had time to reflect on their achievement. “The crossing was really tough – it quite literally stripped you bare and demanded love and tolerance in equal measure,’ reveals Kit. ‘I don’t think I have ever laughed and cried quite as much as we did in those 47 days”.

“The row itself was bookended by some really tough conditions,” she continues. “The last week in particular was pretty gruelling mentally and physically because, while the end was in sight, the weather wasn’t always in our favour on our approach to English Harbour. That said, the night sky took your breath away, spotting dolphins and whales tailing our boat never failed to be thrilling, and none of us had ever before experienced the pure unadulterated elation we felt on seeing and hearing our families as we crossed the finish. They are memories we will all cherish for the rest of our lives.”

Now back in the UK, Laura also reflects on the experience: “I couldn’t have asked for a better three women to take on this challenge with. Daily pep talks enabled us to help each other through tricky times and wobbles and gave us the opportunity to reflect on and acknowledge success and progress. When it really mattered, we got our heads down and worked as a team to achieve our one resounding goal - to step onto that pontoon at the end better friends than when we left La Gomera. I couldn’t be prouder of us for achieving this.”

Vital support contributing to the success of the team

As well as the four women on the boat, the team comprised a huge land-based support crew of friends and families diligently keeping track of their progress on the YB Races app, dedicated team and social media managers, as well Atlantic Campaigns World’s Toughest Row support team who was on hand 24 hours a day to provide advice whenever it was needed.

“We wouldn’t have got to the start line were it not for the support of our sponsors, friends and families,” concludes Kit. “A lot of previous crews talk about the hardest part of the whole challenge being as much about getting yourself to the start line in La Gomera as the row itself, and we whole-heartedly concur.

“Training is only one aspect of the preparation for the crossing; developing partnerships and securing funding for our campaign is a big part of the challenge. We are really grateful for the support of incredible sponsors who came on board to support our effort. These include Barratt PLC, JM Finn and Knight Frank, as well as local businesses such as Sittingbourne and Bristol based Dore Metals. Their support has been crucial in helping us complete this challenge and smash our original target to raise £60,000 in funds for our chosen charities. We can’t thank them enough.”

You can still donate to Ace of Blades campaign via the team’s website, or by contacting them directly on You can also find out more about the team’s journey to cross the finish line on the website or by following @teamaceofblades on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

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