Published: 31 October 2023

As a member of the marine industry, it is likely you would have considered or even experienced cruising in different waters of the world or crossing different oceans – some more challenging than others. But have you ever thought about crossing the Atlantic? And on a rowing boat?

Early this month, YDSA Chairman, Tim Barker, was approached by Victoria Jeffs, a 56-year-old grandmother and single mum from Stratford Upon Avon who wanted her rowing boat surveyed by an independent yacht surveyor.

Read on to find out more about Victoria and how Tim helped prepare her boat for a huge and inspiring challenge ahead.

About Victoria Jeffs

Based in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Victoria is a mental fitness expert and mentor, Ironman fanatic, whilst also being a mum and grandmother. From our conversation with Victoria, it was clear that she is a driven woman and up for any endurance challenge. Whilst overcoming various personal challenges throughout her life, Victoria embraces every moment and any opportunity that comes her way: “If I don’t do this now, then will I?” she says. Victoria tells us she is always keen to learn more, and a good endurance challenge. So, two years ago, she set herself her next challenge - to row, solo, across the Atlantic. And whilst some might think her mad, she is on a mission to not only prove everyone wrong but also that anything is possible at any age!

The Challenge

In 2014, Victoria sponsored a fellow Ironman friend when she decided to row the Atlantic with three other rowers. This introduction sparked her interest in ocean rowing, a niche sport but one that is growing in popularity. And, as Victoria had already achieved various Ironman's and other endurance challenges, in 2021 Victoria decided this was the next challenge for her! Whilst being an endurance expert, Victoria also realises 80% of the challenge will be mental and she expects much will change when she is alone in the big blue and at the mercy of the elements.

About the Row

Victoria will be rowing independently across the Atlantic for approx. 3,000 miles. Her boat is small - six-metres long and one and a half metres wide. She will be one of just 25 women who have solo rowed across any ocean and will also be setting a Guinness World Record to become the oldest solo female on the planet to row any ocean. Impressive stuff! She sets off from Gran Canaria in January 2024. Victoria plans to arrive in Barbados, 50-100 days later – depending on the trade winds which differ year-on-year.

The Preparation

For any endurance challenge, there is always more than one element that one must consider and prepare for. But, for a mammoth and dangerous challenge as an ocean crossing, it is no great surprise that the training and preparation is extensive. In fact, Victoria has been training for the race for two and half years and which has included training such as:

  • Mental and fitness
  • Rowing, cycling and swimming
  • Sea navigation and survival
  • Marine radio communications
  • Electrical and maintenance
  • Sea trials - in Poole, Burnham on Crouch, and from Whitby to Scarborough

As well as preparing mentally and physically for the challenge, Victoria also wanted to be confident that her boat was seaworthy and fit for the crossing. She wanted to be certain she understood how the boat works – inside and out. In fact, Victoria told us that such occurrences as Marlin strikes are becoming more common during ocean crossings, and which can cause significant damage to the boats. So, with a well-prepared toolkit and training, Victoria stresses the need to be prepared and ready to fix various problems that may transpire at any point.

This is where a qualified and experienced surveyor was needed.

Meeting Tim Barker, Surveyor and YDSA Chairman

Requiring a survey six months prior to departure and wanting an independent survey (outside of the normal ocean rowing community), Victoria decided to Google ‘marine surveyors’. She quickly discovered YDSA Member and Chairman, Tim Barker, and was delighted to also see that Tim had previously surveyed another ocean rowing boat. Whilst the survey itself was relatively simple, Tim provided suggestions such as a compass amendment, hatch management, stainless steel replacement brackets and the need to carry lithium fire extinguishers.

Victoria Jeff: “Tim was brilliant – he explained everything so well – guiding me in terminology that is new to me, I felt so much more confident about my boat after our conversation. Not only did I get a comprehensive report that I need to provide to the Spanish authorities before departure, but he explained what it all meant, so I can feel confident in my vessel. As a novice in ocean life this has been invaluable."

Track and support Victoria’s challenge via her website: Totally OARdacious!

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October 2023



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