Sara at 63 is leaving Wapping to take on challenge to row the vast Atlantic
PUBLISHED: 15:00 09 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:32 09 December 2019
Two women from the famous Poplar rowing club on the Isle of Dogs are planning to row more than 3,000 miles across the rough Atlantic Ocean.
Sara Brewer wants to be the oldest woman to row an ocean when she sets off on Thursday while the rest of us go to the polls.
The 63-year-old from Wapping is rowing with another woman from the Poplar and Blackwall district club, 35-year-old Anne Prestidge. Sara celebrates her 64th birthday in the middle of the Atlantic on January 12.
The two are taking it in turns to row two hours each, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to complete the gruelling journey they've set themselves in under 70 days.
"I'll be the oldest woman to have rowed an ocean if I succeed," Sara cautiously observes. "I don't know if it's being arrogant or foolhardy. Something will go wrong—it's inevitable.
"But there is no chance of me walking away from this. The biggest adventure of my life is about to begin."
The two could be coping with 60ft waves, like three London double-decker buses stacked on top of one another.
"I was so driven to do this that I didn't ask my rowing friends in case they were caught up in something they would later regret," Sara admits. "But I quietly began to mention it and to my delight the instant reaction was that they were coming with me!"
Four club members were planning the trek originally, but now down to two—Sara as skipper and Ann as navigator in a tiny 30ft craft just 6ft wide.
They have limited experience when it comes to things like oceans. The duo have managed 120 miles or so on the sheltered Thames from Lechlade to the Isle of Dogs, a marathon in Lincolnshire and one sea row around Hayling Island on the south coast—hardly 'sea dogs' for the great Atlantic. But they have been training in coastal waters around Essex and Devon.
The longest row they have ever done, however, is still 2,850 miles short of the distance across the vast ocean.
These incredible members of the Isle of Dogs rowing club are doggedly determined to succeed, raising funds for Alzheimer's Society and Street League "sport for employment" charities and have so far raised £31,000.
"I don't see age as a barrier," Sara insists. "I am not ready to retire just yet."
She took up rowing for the first time at 57, living close to the watefront and looking for an open space to exercise. Rowing was the obvious choice.
Now at 63, Sara is taking the sport to its extreme by taking on the Atlantic with Ann. She is just about escaping the general election, it seems, but will still miss Christmas with husband John while fighting the elements of a vast ocean.