In June 2023, four ladies from Antigua will be taking part in the inaugural Pacific Challenge, organized by Atlantic Campaigns. Rowing from the historic harbour of Monterey in California, the race ends across the Pacific Ocean, 2,800 nautical miles later in Nawiliwili Bay on the beautiful garden island of Kauai, Hawaii.
Team Antigua Island Girls will be racing in a brand new Rannoch RX45 ocean rowing boat, currently being built for their row. In the meantime, Rannoch is supporting this team throughout their training on R45 ‘Crusader’ whilst their RX45 is in construction.
The relationship between Rannoch and this team of capable rowers has been strong ever since they represented Antigua and Barbuda in the 2018 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Most of their training was done in the UK with Charlie Pitcher coaching and mentoring them every step of the way. Elvira comments:
"Before the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge 2018, we spent an enormous amount of time on our R45, bonding and getting to know every inch of her. We had an incredible amount of support from the Rannoch Adventure Team and practically lived at their HQ in Burnham on Crouch for a month before our race. We had some incredible highs and lows which will be forever embedded in our minds!"
When they arrived home in English Harbour, Antigua from La Gomera, after 3000 miles, they made history by becoming not only the first all-women team from the Caribbean to compete in the TWAC, but also the first all-black team to row across any ocean. This adventurous team comprised of Elvira Bell, Christal Clashing, Kevinia Francis and Samara Emmanuel and all four will be rowing together again across the Pacific in just 12 months’ time.
KEVINIA FRANCIS - Skipper
By profession, Kevinia is a certified health-and-fitness trainer. By nature, she is a competitor and an all-round sportswoman, excelling in basketball, cycling (three-time female cyclist of the year), martial arts (youngest female black belt) and track-and-field. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences and a Masters in Physical Therapy. One of nine children from a close-knit family, she is also the mother of a daughter.
Samara, the seafarer of the team, is the first Antiguan woman to become a RYA certified yacht captain. She is also a certified day skipper, coastal skipper, yacht master and boat master, amongst a lengthy list of certifications. She works at Jumpy Bay as a captain and nurtures her passion for racing and delivering boats. She has made ‘countless’ solo deliveries across the Caribbean. She has also sailed from Antigua to Portsmouth, England via the Azores. Samara is the mother of two sons.
A natural athlete with an adventurous side, Elvira is at ease on the track, in the dojo, in the gym or in the pool. She is a Level 2 learn-to-swim instructor and a certified health-and-wellness coach. Her passions are natural health and wellness. She is a wife and mother of one son. A hitherto little known fact about Elvira is that she not only has a golden voice, but harbours thoughts of singing professionally.
Christal made history in 2004 when at the age of 14 she became the first female swimmer to represent Antigua and Barbuda at the Olympics. She is an adventure guide, pool-and-open water swimming and stand-up paddling instructor, free diver and travel writer. Christal is currently pursuing a PhD in aquatic technology at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Her first book, Yemoja’s Anansi, ‘a reimagining of the Anansi stories brought to the Caribbean on slave ships from Africa’, is hot off the press.
It’s great to see these girls out training on Crusader and the whole Rannoch Adventure team wishes them the best of luck with their Pacific Ocean crossing in 2023.