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Other Sports - 25. July 2010.

Four women Laura Thomason, Beverley Ashton, Angela MAdsen and skipper Berlinda Kirk, celebrate setting a new world record, after completing the around Britain rowing race

Four female rowers have become the first women ever to row around the coast of Britain.


The women who spent 51 days at sea in a tiny boat the length of two mini ended their epic 2,000-mile journey this morning at Tower Bridge in London.

By becoming the first women ever to row around mainland Britain their time of 51 days 16hours 42minutes has been accepted for a Guinness World Record.

Belinda Kirk, 35, from Bristol, Royal Navy nurse Laura Thomasson, 23, from Dover, IT support manager Beverley Ashton, 29, from Wantage, Oxfordshire and
Angela Madsen, a wheelchair-bound 50-year-old grandmother and former US
marine from Long Beach California are raising money for the services¹ charity, Help For Heroes.

When they set out from Tower Bridge in London on June 1, they were taking part in Virgin GB Row 2010  - the world¹s toughest rowing race.


They were racing a team of four men around the British mainland.

But when the male team gave up after less than two weeks, the women carried on alone and without any assistance for five more weeks.

During that time the Seagals, as they are known were: swamped by huge waves which put the boat¹s water maker out of action; almost sunk by a rogue wave that flooded the front cabin, survived storms, navigated some of the most treacherous tides on the planet, almost been mown down by ships, bombed by the RAF and they have run short of food.

Angela Madsen actually broke her finger setting off a flare to warn off a ship that was on a collision course. She then carried on rowing with a broken finger by strapping her hand to the oar.

Because of bad weather and strong winds, their journey has taken three weeks more than expected and they packed enough food for just 40 days.

And earlier this week a power failure onboard the boat meant they ration drinking water.

Sir Richard Branson who sponsored the event by awarding the first-ever Virgin Trophy to the winners, said: ³Go Seagals!!!  I knew I was right to back to girls in beating the boys in the first ever Virgin GB Row and I¹m over the moon that such brave women have achieved a World Record in such a
spectacular fashion!

³This is why we set up the Virgin Trophy ­ Belinda, Angela, Laura and Beverley have pushed through extreme tiredness, hunger and serious injury to
battle on and achieve the goal they set out to achieve.

³Britain has something to be proud of this summer after all! I hope they will get all of Britain¹s support when they record up the Thames on Thursday
to claim their World Record and the Trophy!²

After passing under Tower Bridge at the end of their epic journey, the four women had an emotional reunion with friends and family they haven¹t seen for more than seven weeks. They completely missed the world cup and Wimbledon
passed them by.

Throughout the journey, the girls were able to contact the outside world via their Samsung Wave phones, donated by Samsung and Virgin Media. Video from their journey is available on our YouTube link or from our press gallery.
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