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Intrepid University of Auckland academic to row the Pacific

Intrepid University of Auckland academic to row the Pacific Ocean

What would you do if in your first attempt to row an ocean your small boat is attacked by a shark, the boat flips and leaves you with a head injury that needs stitches and you end up getting rescued in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean?

When that happened to Tara Remington in her first ocean race she went and rowed the Atlantic again. Now she’s about to take on the Pacific.

The 43-year-old University of Auckland academic will row from Los Angeles to Waikiki in Hawaii this May with American Paralympian Angela Madsen.

Tara is doing the 4000 Km odyssey to raise money for New Zealand girl Charlotte Cleverley-Bisman. Charlotte lost her arms and legs to meningitis as a baby in 2004. Now a 10-year-old, she needs on-going assistance with prosthetic limbs as she grows. Tara’s row will also help raise enough money for Charlotte to attend Camp No Limits, a special camp for amputees and their families held in the United States each year.

And Tara is more than happy to help. The Waiuku resident firtst got involved with Charlotte’s charity through the Meningitis Trust in the 2007 Atlantic Rowing Race, and now her daughter Jade is Charlotte’s pen-pal.

“To use the row as an opportunity to fundraise as well is very important to me.”

Tara, who left her native United States for New Zealand 18 years ago, will also use the experience towards her PhD studies in adventure based learning.

Despite her first two ocean rows being challenging to say the least, she misses the thrill of being at sea.

“Once you row an ocean it’s such a steep learning curve. I want to get better at it and use what I’ve learnt and push myself a little bit further.”

“I am a bit like a dog,” Tara jokes. “I need to be exercised regularly.”

Her wife Rebecca has been patient about her need to get out on the water.

“In the last year she’s been throwing out the off handed line ‘you just need to go and row another ocean.’”

“She understands it’s a part of me, as much as she wishes it wasn’t. I think she realises I’ve been missing it.”

Now her quest to complete the Pacific Ocean with Angela will take place in two stages. The first in May between Los Angeles and Waikiki, then the second between Hawaii and New Zealand in 2017.

Their boat, the Spirit of Orlando is named in honour of Lieutenant Orlando Rogers, a British marine and fellow competitor in the Trans–Atlantic Rowing Race in 2007 who was killed in a Tiger Moth crash in England in May 2011.

Tara’s first ocean row was the Trans–Atlantic Rowing Race from the Canary Islands to the West Indies in 2005. Tara and her rowing partner Iain Rudkin suffered immense seasickness. She rowed with a bucket between her legs for the first five days just to keep going. A three-and-a-half metre shark they nicknamed “Abby” for its ‘abnormal’ behaviour battered their boat for 15 long minutes before losing interest and swimming away.

The pair kept rowing. They had completed 3518 km of the of the 4800 km race and had spent 47 days at sea before the boat started to take on water and then capsized forcing them to abandon ship and require rescue. Abby’s teeth marks in the rudder showed the amount of damage done.

“We kept going until the boat was going down. We just kept finding solutions until the boat went down.”

Two years later, Tara returned to the Trans–Atlantic Rowing Race as a team of four women rowers all looking to finish their ‘Unfinished Business’ in a boat of the same name. They finished in 51 days, 16 hours and 31 minutes and became the new world record holders for a women’s four. This record remains unbroken.

Tara predicts this latest journey will take between 45 and 55 days of hard work, but she’s not complaining.

“I am lucky to be alive to do it again.”

Visit for more information on Tara and her Pacific Row 2014.


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