About me

My name is Helena and I'm a rower. Actually, that's not quite true. I'm a cox. Who also rows. But only long-distance.

My first encounters with rowing were in fiberglass dinghies on the Stobswell Pond in Dundee in the 1970s, where I grew up. Despairing of my lack of interest in almost any other kind of physical exercise, my mother used to take me up there occasionally, as I was always keen to go for a paddle. I think it cost 10p for about half an hour. 

Leaving that aside, I learned to row at university. I loved it, but at 5'4, 50kg, and unfit, I wasn't anything like as good as I was keen. Then I figured out that I'd win more as a cox, and the rest is history. Incidentally, coxing men's VIIIs as a woman also has an obvious plus point: you won't be surprised to hear that I first knew my husband as "2".

19 years and hundreds of race starts later, 2 men whom I'd coxed for a while, decided to row the Atlantic. They appointed me as their "land team" manager, which largely involved writing their blog to keep their friends and family informed, involved, and busily raising money for their chosen charities. This involved a certain literary creativity, because their input was mostly along the lines of  "Tough headwind today. We're knackered."   

Anyway, my fascination with "expedition rowing" in all its forms was born. Ocean rowing is only the most extreme form of expedition rowing, in terms of time, distance, money, danger, and nudity. 

This blog chronicles my rowing expeditions from little day trips up local rivers to my 75-day paddle across the Atlantic in 2011-12 with my husband Richard. In 2016 I set a new a Guinness World Record for the greatest distance rowed in 24 hours by a female team. 

If you're a rower, I do encourage you to explore "beyond regattas and heads*, and try expedition rowing too.

* I have nothing against regattas or heads. I still take part in, and even organise or timekeep at them. But they're not the ONLY option.


  1. Well done, Helena - a really good read and your love of rowing and its characters really comes across. Most inspiring!

  2. I second that emotion. Keep up the scribbles, for all you are worth.