An oar-some challenge

Three Aberystwyth University staff members and one student will row across the Irish Sea this weekend (4-6 May) as part of the Celtic Challenge rowing race which will see 23 teams row from Arklow in Ireland to Aberystwyth.

Hannah Payne who works at the Research Office, Dr Phillipa Nicholas and Dr Rosemary Collins from the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) and Sue Walker, a second year student from the Department of Sports and Exercise Science, will form part of a 12 woman team of rowers from Aberystwyth Rowing Club.

The 2012 Challenge, which has seen the largest ever entry, will be dependent entirely on the weather conditions during the May Bank Holiday weekend with regard to starting time. The race will aim to start on Saturday afternoon, arriving in Aberystwyth on Sunday morning.

The ladies team, who will row a distance of about 90 miles, are taking part in the Challenge in order to raise vital funds for Apêl Elain www.apelelain.com a fundraising appeal set up by a local Aberystwyth family in support of four charities.

Hannah, who is also vice-captain of the team, explains, “For this bi-annual event, we’ll be using a Celtic Longboat which is about 25 foot long and takes four rowers and one cox at any one time.

“Each team consists of 12 people who take it in turns to row, spending the time in between on a support boat which assists in crew changeovers. How often we swap rowers and how people are utilised is all part of the tactics of the race.

“The race is an extreme test of endurance and generally takes between 15 and 24 hours to complete, depending on the weather. The race will hopefully start in the afternoon with every team rowing throughout the night and arriving in Aberystwyth early morning.”

Apêl Elain supports the Wales Air Ambulance, Children’s Heart Unit for Wales, Bristol Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House in Bristol.  These four charities have been paramount in providing quality of care during the James family’s time in hospital, whilst their daughter Elain received essential treatment for congenital heart disease. If you would like to donate, please visit www.charitygiving.co.uk/aber_ladies_cc2012

The Celtic Challenge was launched in 1993 and took place every two years until 2001. The 2001 race had to be cancelled because of restrictions imposed during the foot and mouth outbreak and was re-scheduled for 2002.

Photograph: (L-R) Dr Phillipa Nicholas, Sue Walker, Hannah Payne and Dr Rosemary Collins in training for the Celtic Challenge
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