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Wife of top rower plans all-girl bid

PUBLISHED: 08:43 30 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:23 14 July 2010

You might have thought the first- hand accounts of blisters, sore backsides, the daily physical agony and the psychological tension on board would have been enough to put anyone off - but far from it.

You might have thought the first- hand accounts of blisters, sore backsides, the daily physical agony and the psychological tension on board would have been enough to put anyone off - but far from it.

For Wymondham's Claire Hughes, wife of Atlantic rowing world-record holder Liam Hughes, has said she wants to launch her own bid for the same challenge, but with an all-female crew.

Norfolk cardiologist Liam is still recovering from his efforts alongside 13 other men, who managed to power the rowboat La Mondiale across more than 3,000 miles of open water between the Canary Islands and Barbados in 33 days, seven and a-half hours. They shaved more than two days off a famous 16-year-old record, set by a French team in the same boat.

The couple and their two children Fergus and Finlay are back at home, where talk has turned to the possibility of the next challenge. “I would love to do the same row, but with an all-girl crew,” said Claire.

“The subject came up while we were in Barbados for the welcoming of the guys when they broke the record earlier in the month.

“I would 100pc like to do it. Ever since I rowed the North Sea as part of a team, which also included Liam, I have wanted to do something bigger.

“And no, the tales from La Mondiale have not put me off!”

There are several hurdles to overcome, the main two being whether or not La Mondiale will be available for the challenge and whether Claire can find 13 other women prepared to take on the project.

“There are a fair few girls who have either rowed the Atlantic or have completed long rows,” said Claire, “so hopefully we can get a team together and find a way of using the same boat.

“It would be wonderful to have two records with the same boat; she is very special and she deserves it.

“But everything is very much up in the air at the moment. There is a lot to do to make it happen, so it is by no means guaranteed.”

The boat is owned by Scottish adventurer Leven Brown, who was part of the same 14-man team as Liam and is supportive of the idea of the female attempt.

The current all-female rowing record for the Atlantic was set in only the last few days, when a team called Unfinished Business cut the previous time of 67 days, seven hours and 20 minutes to 51 days, 16 hours and 31 minutes.

Liam said he was “completely behind” his wife's bid and added: “The main piece of advice to anyone doing something like this is to trust in your own strength and to realise that even though it is a huge task, in any 10-minute period you can, if focused enough, achieve a huge amount.”

And all this despite the fact Liam is still suffering from his row. “It was a hell of an assault on the body and I am not quite there physically, but the body is recovering,” he said.

“But it was an important experience and one I am so happy to have been involved in.”

Liam's charity for the row was the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's Balloons4Hearts appeal. Donations can still be made by logging on to www.oceanrowevents.com and following the charities link.

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