Victoria Evans' Atlantic charity row postponed because of coronavirus travel restrictions

By Katie FalkinghamBBC Sport
Victoria Evans
Victoria Evans had never rowed before deciding to take on the Atlantic

Victoria Evans, the lawyer aiming to break the record for the fastest female solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, has had her attempt postponed because of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The 34-year-old, who had never rowed before taking on the challenge, was due to start her crossing this month.

After shipping her boat to Tenerife following discussions with the Spanish government, she has now been told that her travel exemption cannot be fully granted, leaving her unable to join the vessel to depart.

"This has been a crushing blow so close to the start line," said Evans, who now hopes to attempt the row in early 2022.

"Getting to just days from the start only to find yourself set back a year is hard to explain. There is denial, anger, sadness and ultimately, as I'm coming to now, acceptance of the present reality. I've also struggled with frustration at the way the matter was handled and the decision being ultimately outside of my control."

Evans was aiming to raise £50,000 for the Women In Sport charity, but despite giving up her job and her home in order to do the row, Evans is keen to keep things in perspective.

"I have tried to remind myself that it's key to ensure I step back from the challenge and look at the bigger picture," she said.

"We are all living in a truly unique time and sometimes life gets in the way of our perfectly made plans. The path to an event of this size was always going to be winding, what's key is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances."

So, not resting on her laurels, Evans is instead launching the #350Challengeexternal-link on 1 March.

As the Atlantic record attempt would have seen Evans row more than 350 miles a week from Tenerife to Barbados, those taking on the challenge are invited to cover 350 miles or 350 minutes in an activity of their choice, while raising money for Women In Sport.

"As a nation we've all experienced restrictions over the last year, not least when it comes to keeping active," Evans said. "Lockdown has widened the gender gap in sport and fitness.

"We've created the #350Challenge to provide a community to motivate everyone, particularly women, to get active this March and to drive change in the opportunities available for women and girls."

Women In Sport chief executive Stephanie Hilborne said: "We know that sport can have a transformational impact on people's lives, and that too many women and girls are missing out. Gender stereotypes and cultural bias are holding many girls and women back in life and in sport.

"Tori is showing what the world misses out on when women are sidelined and will be inspiring countless others."

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