Rower prepares for record-breaking bid

ADVENTUROUS rower Helen Taylor is setting her sights on a record-breaking crossing of one of the worlds mightiest oceans.

James Mortlock

ADVENTUROUS rower Helen Taylor is setting her sights on a record-breaking crossing of one of the worlds mightiest oceans.

The holiday images of the Indian Ocean are of tranquil paradise islands but the Oxford chemistry graduate is preparing to face its less hospitable nature - 50ft waves, sharks and cyclone force winds.

Helen, a Sudbury Rowing Club member, is preparing to tackle one of the toughest endurance races on the planet and in April will fly to Australia to join a crew of seven international athletes for the 3,500 row across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius.

If successful, the trip will be a record-breaking effort. The team will be the first eight-person rowing squad to cross the ocean and Helen will be the first woman and, at 22, the youngest person to complete the voyage.

The current goal of the sportswoman, from Great Barton, near Bury St Edmunds, is to raise more than �20,000 to finance the adventure and raise vital funds for the Scope respite centre in Bury.

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And the former member of the Oxford University ladies crew, who was also captain of her college St Edmund Hall's ladies crew, is enduring a continual round of exhausting sessions on the rowing machine as well as on the River Stour in preparation for the challenge.

She said: “I wanted to do something different, something that would really challenge me and make a difference to other people's lives and this seemed just perfect.

“It is daunting. Not only will it take between 50 and 90 days, but I'm preparing myself for the fact that I might have to row naked with a mixed crew on the journey.”

To avoid painful sores in the sweltering, salty conditions, the crew could be forced to follow the lead of Olympic rower James Cracknell and TV's Ben Fogle, who stripped off during their Atlantic rowing challenge.

Helen said she welcomed the challenge of the marathon: “I've been warned that the Indian Ocean has sharks and we could be hit with 50ft waves, but it wouldn't be worth it if it was easy.”

She is hoping companies will come forward to help fund the �15,000 she needs to take part, with any extra going to Scope: “I have volunteered to work at Scope throughout my studies as my mum works there. They do such a fantastic job for young people with cerebral palsy but are always in need of funds to keep the service going.”

Anyone who would like to support Helen can call her on 07948 372993 or email on

For more information on Helen's challenge go to