Four women from Antigua have just completed a grueling rowing competition and many are heralding them as the first all-black women’s rowing team to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Their official team name is Team Antigua- The Island Girls.
Competitive rowers Elvira Bell, Christal Clashing, Samara Emmanuel, and Kevinia Francis participated in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. They set course on Dec. 12 from the Canary Islands and landed in Antigua on Jan. 30—a 3,000-mile trip. A fifth member of the team, Junella King did not actively participate in the race, but trained with the others and served as an alternate.
According to the Indy100 website, the rowing race is one of the toughest in the world. Rowers burn an average of 8,000 calories during the competition.
The women competed in name of their chosen charity, Cottage of Hope, which offers short- and long-term residency to girls who are abused, neglected, or orphaned. Their goal was to raise $150,000 for the organization.
The nation of Antigua burst into collective celebration as the women finished the race. As per The Loop, the country’s government officials shortened a budget debate so that politicians could be present when the team arrived in their homeland. Public and private institutions closed early so that more people could meet with and congratulate the team.
The team battled sea sickness and their boat nearly capsized at one point during their journey, reports The Daily Observer. They were presented with a gift by Antigua’s Prime Minister upon their return.
The team’s website has bios of each team member. Christal Clashing is an adventure guide and travel writer. In 2004, she became the first female swimmer to represent Antigua and Barbuda at the Olympics.
Elvira Bell is a swim instructor and a certified health coach. Samara Emmanuel is the first Antiguan woman to become a certified yacht captain and has more than 12 years’ seafarer experience. She is also a certified day skipper, coastal skipper, yacht master, and boat master among a lengthy list of certifications.
Kevinia Francis is a title-winning, all-around athlete who excels in basketball, cycling, martial arts, and track-and-field.
Junella King is just 17-years-old. She juggles school and sailing while working part-time as a sailing instructor.