The Bristol Gulls prepare to row the Atlantic and raise money for the RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

The Bristol Gulls are four Bristol-based women who are preparing to be the first crew to take on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge rowing in an ‘Eco Boat’.

The Bristol Gulls

The team with their Eco Boat and RNLI flag in Bristol Harbour
Consisting of captain Sofia Deambrosi, Chloe Juyon, Lorna Carter and Sarah Hunt – the Bristol Gulls will be rowing 3,000 nautical miles across the vast Atlantic Ocean in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in December 2020. The team is rowing to raise money for the RNLI and Clean Up Bristol Harbour, two organisations that share their mission to promote a safe and sustainable relationship with our oceans.

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is an annual race that departs from La Gomera in the Canary Islands and finishes in Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean. Around 30 crews from around the world take part in a range of crew sizes and the aim is to complete the crossing unassisted. The Gulls will row in pairs; rowing for two hours followed by two hours off. When not rowing, they will sleep, eat, clean and catch-up on jobs around the boat.

Around 5,000-6,000 calories a day, each, will be needed to fuel the Gulls’ engines, which will mainly come from freeze-dried or dehydrated meals. A solar panel operated ‘water maker’ (desalination unit) will be used to process sea water, making about 30 litres of water at a time to be used for hydration and cleaning.

The Bristol Gulls are currently crowdfunding with a goal of £45,000 to cover the necessary costs of the challenge such as the boat, equipment, food, travel, and insurance.

They aim to recover the majority of this money after the race by re-selling the boat and equipment. To raise awareness of safety at sea and ocean pollution, this money will ultimately be donated to RNLI Portishead and Clean Up Bristol Harbour.

Lorna Carter from the Bristol Gulls said:

‘We have chosen to support Portishead RNLI as a local station for Bristol. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every single day of the year, the volunteer lifeboat crew at Portishead are always ready and prepared to answer the call to those in distress in the area.’

‘Any donations to our crowdfunding campaign will help us get to the start line ready to cross the Atlantic and this will ultimately fundraise for these two great charities. From the sale of our boat and equipment after the race, we are aiming to raise £11,000 to cover the 2020 operational costs of Portishead RNLI.’

They have teamed up with Rannoch Adventure to manufacture an Eco Ocean Rowing Boat, which will be the first of its kind and uses innovative and sustainable materials. The Eco Boat’s foam core alone contains around 10,000 500ml recycled plastic bottles.

Lorna Carter said:
‘We’re hugely excited to be undertaking the Atlantic crossing in the world’s first eco boat. As Rannoch continue to explore other alternative materials and methods in the future, we hope Eco Boat Mk1 will inspire other marine manufacturers to try out more sustainable practices with their composite products.’

Despite the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the team have continued to train and raise awareness of their crowdfunding campaign. Throughout lockdown, the Gulls continued to train at home – including practicing rowing in the bath! After restrictions were loosened on outside exercise, they recently undertook a 24 hour socially distanced rowing challenge on Clifton Downs to raise awareness of their mission.

It’s never been easier to come on board with the Gulls current fundraiser; “Buy a Mile”, where you can buy a mile of their crossing for just £1 and leave a message that they will open up on the Atlantic. Or you can buy them a meal for christmas while away from family, a drink to celebrate their arrival, a present for the ones that will be celebrating their birthday at sea: https://www.thebristolgulls.com/sponsorship

Any donation to the campaign will mean you get to have your name displayed on ‘The Gulls' Club’ page on their website. Donations of £100 or more mean you will be part of the journey across the Atlantic by having your name printed on the Eco Boat - the most sustainable boat ever rowed in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

To donate to The Bristol Gulls crowdfunding campaign visit: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/the-bristol-gulls
For more information and to find out about corporate sponsorship opportunities, please contact thebristolgulls@gmail.com.

Notes to editors
• Please find attached photos – Credit The Bristol Gulls

RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Marianne Quinn, Regional Media Officer, on Marianne_Quinn@rnli.org.uk or 07786 668847, Amy Caldwell, Regional Media Manager on 07920818807.

The Bristol Gulls

Sarah visiting RNLI Portishead (before coronavirus restrictions)

The Bristol Gulls

The team of Lorna, Sofia, Sarah and Chloe

The Bristol Gulls

The Eco Boat - named Vaquita after a critically endangered species of porpoise

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.

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