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Intrepid academic setting off to row Pacific

Intrepid University of Auckland academic setting off to row the Pacific

Tara Remington has strange plans for her 44th Birthday. She plans to treat herself to a Peppermint Patty chocolate before picking up a set of oars and continuing to row across the Pacific Ocean.

The University of Auckland academic leaves Auckland for the United States tomorrow, and on Thursday she starts the row from Long Beach Los Angeles to Waikiki in Hawaii with American Paralympian Angela Madsen.

The 4000 Km odyssey is 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.

The Waiuku resident first 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.

Tara’s journey is expected to take anywhere from 45 to 60 days, but she doesn’t mind that she will not be able to stop to celebrate her 44th birthday on May 26.

She doesn’t even have any nerves.

“Quite the opposite really, I feel like I’ve had enough time to talk about it and think about it, I just want to go and do it.”

Along with the Peppermint Patty, Tara’s being busy packing instant noodles, macaroni cheese and merino clothing to keep her comfortable during the long hours of rowing.

“I feel really ready to go; I am putting my game-face on now.”

“When I’m at the beach and I watch the tide come in and the tide go out and see the waves breaking, I think ‘I just want to be out in it.’”

The rowers’ quest to complete the Pacific Ocean 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, a Professional Teaching Fellow at the University’s Faculty of Education, plans to use the experience towards her PhD studies in adventure based learning.

She plans to keep a blog of her journey along the way to share her journey. And from her past experiences of ocean rowing she should have plenty to write about.
Tara’s first two ocean rows were challenging to say the least.

In 2005 she competed in the Trans–Atlantic Rowing Race from the Canary Islands to the West Indies. 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 it sank.”

Two years later, Tara returned to the Trans–Atlantic Rowing Race as one of 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 is determined to make this Pacific race a success for her own confidence, and to ensure she raises plenty of money to help Charlotte.

“You go into a row like this knowing failure is not an option.”

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


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