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Four female rowers first to circle Britain

Aug 2, 2010
<p>The successful Seagals celebrate their round Britain row (click on image to enlarge).</p>

The successful Seagals celebrate their round Britain row (click on image to enlarge).

The women who spent 51 days at sea in a tiny boat the length of two minis ended their epic 2,000-mile journey on July 25 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 services’ 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 world’s 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 boat’s 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: “Go Seagals!!!  I knew I was right to back to girls in beating the boys in the first ever Virgin GB Row and I’m over the moon that such brave women have achieved a World Record in such a spectacular fashion!  
 
“This 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.  
 
“Britain has something to be proud of this summer after all! I hope they will get all of Britain’s support when they record up the Thames on Thursday to claim their World Record and the Trophy!”

After passing under Tower Bridge at the end of their epic journey, the four women had an emotional reunion with friends and family they haven’t 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.
 

During the race the crew sent back blogs and video from the boats. All available on our press gallery (below)