March 11, 2021
Ciara Burns

Little Lady One Man Big Ocean - Rowing the Atlantic

My Atlantic dream started with the book ‘Little Lady One Man Big Ocean: Rowing the Atlantic’. I started reading it on a grey Monday morning before school and after the first few pages my mind was set – I was going to row the Atlantic.

I took the book to school that day and was secretly reading it during class, since I just couldn’t bear not knowing everything about the unbelievable adventure Tori and Paul had. I was so captured by the achievement that I didn’t realise my teacher was standing over me and that was it, the book was gone for the rest of the day. But my thoughts were still fully focused on the adventure.

I was still in school and it wasn’t possible to pursue an Atlantic dream so the idea was put to rest for the time being. I took up rugby and starting to fall in love with that sport. Looking back at all those years, I never completely forgot the Atlantic. I gave the book to one of my teammates in the hope she would read it and fall in love with the idea as much as I did – but no such luck. Nora, if you are reading this, make sure you keep the book safe, since it was never returned to me!

After hanging up my rugby boots on the nails on the wall of the local club for the final time, I knew it was time to pursue the Atlantic dream. This ended up being the first of many sleepless nights dreaming, planning and, last but not least, being nervous about the adventures ahead.

A few weeks later, every thought still centred around the Atlantic and my family suggested flying to La Gomera for the start of the 2018 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. I did and during that time a dream turned into a plan. I came back and spent weeks researching everything about ocean rowing until I stumbled across the NOMAN race from Ibiza to Barcelona. The moment I read about it, I applied, since it was the perfect platform to see if ocean rowing is as exciting as my mind painted it to be – and it’s safe to say I wasn’t disappointed.  

I followed Rannoch Adventure on every social media channel possible and the moment I saw the post about Roxy expeditions, my heart skipped a few beats. Suddenly there was light at the end of the tunnel and I realised this could actually be possible! I wrote my 100 words to apply for a spot on Roxy and never has a text been proof-read by so many people. It seemed like the most defining 100 words I have ever written.

After the Zoom meeting with Charlie and Nicola, I knew that Rannoch was the company I wanted to go with, no matter what.

The acceptance email arrived while I was on the train and again my heart must have stopped. I opened it and read the first sentence which was ‘We’ve been bowled over by the number of people who have expressed interest in our Roxy programme ......’ After reading that, a huge wave of disappointment hit me and I didn’t continue reading as that sounded exactly like a friendly refusal letter. I closed the email and continued my journey. After some time I decided to read the rest of the email and I couldn’t believe my luck - I was actually accepted.  My euphoria must have taken control of my voice and I screamed yippee! At that point everyone was looking at me and I couldn’t help but say: ‘I’ll be the first Austrian woman to row the Atlantic'. The woman smiled at me and turned her attention back to the looking out the window, probably thinking what a strange person I was.

I am so proud and happy to be part of the Roxy Team, which is made up of unbelievable individuals, every one of them so inspiring. I know that this crossing, especially with the unbelievable backup and relentless organisation of the team at Rannoch, will be a huge success and I can’t wait to get started.