The Astro to Atlantic girls make up one unique crew. Already team mates on the hockey pitch, Lou, Helen, Chloe and Emily are swapping their hockey sticks for oars to take on the huge challenge that is the Atlantic. The girls are all Devon born and bred, living, working and breathing the rural way of life. Having played hockey together for the past eleven years (even longer for the two more mature members in our midst!) they are a team both on and off the pitch, united not only in their love for Devon and for hockey, but also in their love of a challenge.
Just to clarify, we’re not being rude when we mention the ‘more mature’ members in our midst, we’re being honest; Astro to Atlantic’s team age range spans over four decades, a fact that we think is pretty impressive!
We cannot deny that the Atlantic is a huge challenge for anyone, not least four hockey girls from Devon, but we are out to prove that anything is possible. We’re entering into the Talisker Whisky Atlantic challenge with very minimal rowing experience between us, but we have a competitive edge and we know that we make one hell of a team, and that is why for Team Astro to Atlantic, taking part is not enough, we are out to win the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and to break a world record in the process, becoming the fastest all women crew to cross the Atlantic.
Helen Symons - Age at row: 32/33
Helen is not your average driving instructor. Being from South Devon she has spent her life on and around the water. Helen has explored lots of the South West coastline on either her trusty paddle board or kayak, but all this paddling experience pales in comparison with the Talisker Whisky Atlantic row. Not shy of a challenge, Helen has cycled from John O’Groats to Land’s end and completed the Devon Coast to Coast challenge with Lou and a friend in 2013, running the length of Devon in 4 days, all in the name of charity. Sticking with the theme of coast to coast, in 2014 Helen also cycled from the North to the South of France. From one coast to another, Helen is now ready for her next coastal challenge, just this time the ever so slightly larger distance between the coasts of Tenerife and Antigua. Her constant thirst for challenge makes Helen the perfect motivator, always bright and energetic her positive, can-do attitude will propel the girls across the Atlantic (if only it were really that easy!).
Louise Read - Age at row: 49/50
Lou is the oldest of Team Astro to Atlantic, she will actually be celebrating her 50th birthday mid-row! Married with two daughters, two stepchildren and four grandchildren Lou has a busy home life near Salcombe where she has lived all her life. Being brought up so close to the sea Lou has an innate love for the water but knows all too well how powerful it can be, something she is mindful of as we look towards the race. This illustrates Lou’s role as the teams ‘voice of reason’, we will be relying on her for the odd reality check in the lead up to the race and are safe in the knowledge that once underway she will keep her head in a sticky situation, as she has done on and off the hockey pitch so many times before. Another team member who is not averse to a challenge, Lou joined Helen on the John O’Groats to Lands end cycle and also the Devon Coast to coast run back in 2013. It was on the Devon run that the seed was sewn for the Atlantic row. An avid sportswoman with a healthy competitive streak Lou is excited for the ultimate test of physical and mental capability, the Atlantic.
Chloe Harvey - Age at row: 27
Chloe is a dairy farmer’s daughter and works as a legal assistant but her spare time is full of competitive sport. A CrossFit athlete, she trains 4 times a week and was part of a team that placed second out of 168 teams from across Europe at ‘Tribal Clash’ in August 2016. She has captained ‘Astro to Atlantic’s’ hockey team, the Kingsbridge and Salcombe Cougars for the past 3 years, leading them to two consecutive promotions. Whilst, like all of the girls, rowing is not something that Chloe has had much experience of, the mental toughness and physical prowess that comes from being a top CrossFit competitor will serve her well in the challenging Atlantic environment and the girls will be looking to Chloe to use her Cougar leadership experience when times get tough in the Atlantic.
Emily Read - Age at row: 20/21
Emily is the youngest member of the team and will be turning 21 during the race across the Atlantic. She holds past experience in competitive rowing, making her a valued and important component of the Astro to Atlantic team. Looking to take on her first challenge and follow in the footsteps of her fellow team mates, Emily is not holding back and is jumping in at the deep end, quite literally, taking on this mammoth task with her mother right by her side. Emily plays hockey for Cougars with the rest of the girls, giving them a bond like no other as they have seen her grow from a young girl of 14 to the woman she is today. With a level head and a young mind, Emily’s initiative and practical nature will be a big asset to the team allowing for some down to earth, outside the box thinking when times get tough.