Camilla celebrates record-breaking female rowing trio

Team ExtraOARdinary arrived in Antigua after rowing at sea for 42 days, seven hours and 17 minutes, beating the previous record by seven days.

08 March 2022

The Duchess of Cornwall said she is still living with the aftereffects of Covid, which appears to have left her with a slight cough.

Camilla discussed her recent illness as she celebrated the achievements of three female rowers, who crossed the Atlantic in record time, to mark International Women’s Day.

Kat Cordiner, who has cancer, Abby Johnston and Charlotte Irving, all part of Team ExtraOARdinary, arrived in Antigua in January after rowing at sea for 42 days, seven hours and 17 minutes.

They beat the previous record set by a female trio in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge by seven days.

Team ExtraOARdinary reception
Camilla, hosts (L-R) Charlotte Irving, Abby Johnston and Kat Cordiner at Clarence House. Chris Jackson/PA

The duchess invited the trio to Clarence House and, as they sat down to chat about their experiences, she said of her illness: “Well, it’s taken me three weeks and I still can’t get shot of it.

“Probably my voice might suddenly go coughing and spluttering.”

Camilla was not troubled by coughing as she quizzed the women about their feat and heard stories about hallucinations from lack of sleep, battling cramp in their legs, and finding ways to cool off from blistering temperatures.

She told them: “I’ve just been reading about your story. It’s absolutely incredible.”

Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge
Rowers (front to back) Charlotte Irving, Kat Cordiner and Abby Johnston, on their way to shatter the world record for rowing across the Atlantic. Cancer Research UK

Rowing the world’s second largest ocean is acknowledged as the ultimate endurance race. More people have summitted Mount Everest than have successfully rowed the Atlantic – and fewer than 20% of ocean rowers are women.

It is thought Ms Cordiner is the first person to tackle this challenge as a cancer patient.

The women were raising money for Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Ms Johnston told the duchess about their weekly job of cleaning barnacles from the bottom of their boat: “If you stop and think for a second – five miles of ocean beneath you” and Camilla made the trio laugh with the quip “and what might be creeping about”.

After chatting to Camilla, Ms Irving said: “It was fantastic meeting the duchess. One of the things we’ve been saying about the row, the row’s been one thing but we’ve met so many wonderful people as a result as well.

“So actually the whole experience has been fantastic not just the row but everything that’s come from it – this has been the icing on the cake.”

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