A PEEBLES woman rowed successfully in the Atlantic Ocean and thus broke a world record.
Taylor Winyard arrived at Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua, last Friday, 40 days and 37 minutes after setting out from La Gomera in the Canary Islands.
The Peebles High School alum was the first woman to cross the finish line in this year’s Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge.
And with teammates Tom Rose and James Woolley, Taylor set a new world record as the fastest mixed trio to ever cross the Atlantic Ocean.
“Rowing around Nelson’s Dockyard was absolutely amazing because we hadn’t seen anyone for 40 days,” Taylor told this newspaper. “We could hear the cheers and knew all of our friends and family were there.
“Someone knew I was Scottish and the bagpipes were playing, which was very emotional. It was quite overwhelming.
“It was just weird seeing the dirt again and walking the dirt was a struggle. The boys had been calling me Bambi the whole ride because I was already quite staggering from the cabin to my rowing seat.
“I don’t want to say the last 100m was the highlight, but it was amazing to get there.”
The task was made considerably more difficult before it started, with the fourth member of the squad stepping down two weeks before flying to La Gomera.
That meant each part of the trio endured two hours of rowing, one hour off from 6am to midnight, which Taylor said was “completely wild”.
The team – known as the Atlantic Nomads – then implemented a system of solo rowing throughout the night to try and allow for longer periods of sleep.
“When it was calm it was fine, but when the seas were bigger it was quite scary to be alone in the dark,” said the 29-year-old. “I don’t think I realized how difficult it would be.
“You are so tired and as soon as the sun goes down it becomes so much harder to stay awake at night. You can’t see where the waves are coming from, it’s just a little scarier.
Despite rowing solo, Taylor says that from the start of the race on Dec. 12 until she crossed the line on Jan. 21, she “didn’t really sleep more than two hours.”
“The lack of sleep was definitely the hardest part,” Taylor said. “I will never take sleep or a bed for granted again.”
Billed as “the toughest line in the world” with teams covering more than 3,000 miles, Taylor says it was as much a physical battle as it was a mental one.
“In the night, if one of the boys knocked on the door to say I was back on the oars, mentally it was so hard,” she said. “It was dark outside and you just had to get up and walk out but physically our hands were in agony, our joints were really sore, our backs were sore, the elbows were sore.
“I have a bit of a claw hand where I can’t really make a fist. My body is definitely feeling it now – it’s taken its toll.
But Taylor’s toughest moment came in the final week of racing.
Poor conditions meant that the team’s scheduled arrival at the shipyard jumped from Friday to Saturday.
“Although I had no idea of arriving on Friday and the idea of doing an extra day, it was one of the most difficult points.
“Everyone was saying, ‘You’re almost there, final push’ – but it was such a long final push because we started counting down to 500 miles to go.
“It’s not far compared to what we had already done but it’s still far.”
In addition to achieving a world record, Atlantic Nomads helped raise much needed funds for their chosen charity, Alabaré’s Homes for Veterans.
Taylor says she thinks their £40,000 target will have been met when it all adds up.
Currently in Antigua with family and friends, Taylor will return home on Saturday but says there are no new challenges on the horizon.
“Knowing me, it’s probably going to be something I want to do, but at the moment I’m pretty happy with it.”