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Gloucestershire Business News

Cheltenham techie rowing 3,000 miles for 50 days for beach clean up charity

Life's A Beach, the charity formed by Gloucestershire-based ProCook founder Daniel O'Neill to raise awareness of the damage single-use plastics do to our beaches and oceans has got behind Cheltenham rower, Lara Vafiadis, in her bid to become the fastest single-handed female rower to cross the Atlantic.

Lara, a Cheltenham based IT sales specialist, will row over 3000 miles without any support, as part of the 2022 Talisker Atlantic Challenge. Starting in La Gomera in the Canary Islands and finishing in English Harbour, Antigua and Barbuda the journey should take around 50 days if things go well. Lara's ambitions extend beyond finishing the crossing, she aims to break the current female record of 49 days and 7 hours.

So, what does life on the ocean wave mean for a single-handed rower? As well as the inevitable sleep deprivation, salt sores, and sheer physical pain of over 1.5 million oar strokes, Lara can expect storms, waves and 20ft ocean swells, and every type of weather that nearly 2 months in the middle of the Atlantic has to offer! All this in a heavy rowing boat with a small cabin at the back for sleep and shelter (sadly no room for a toilet!) and a storage area in front for provisions including all of her water supplies and food for the journey.

These are not obvious things associated with the normal life of a techie from Cheltenham, however, Lara is an experienced sailor with multiple Atlantic crossings under her belt and comes from a sporty background having played first team in almost every sport she has ever turned her hand to, and her confidence and determination are very clear. 

''I come across as laid back but underneath, I am hyper-competitive and love a challenge. I love the sea and am not afraid of being out there alone so it will be more a case of dealing with the huge physical challenge. I know how hard this will be, and I am not going into this with any false optimism or rose tinted-spectacles, I am expecting it to be incredibly tough but I am genuinely looking forward to the test.''

Life's A Beach was formed 2 years ago and benefits from 10% of the sale's value of the entire ProCooks 'Life's A beach' range of sustainable multi use coffee cups, water bottles, reusable straws. Last year ProCook raised £40,000 for the charity and it organised beach cleans, and supplied multi-use drinking bottles toschools. ''One of our key goals is to raise awareness amongst the young about single use plastics and getting behind such an amazing challenge is a great way of doing this. Last year, our activities were curtailed by Covid but it gave us an opportunity to build up some funds in the charity and we want to use some of this to support Lara and help spread the Life's A Beach message. We are also planning to fund a number of beach cleans and are in discussions with a number of schools about halting the use of disposable plastic drinking bottles by using our refillable products.''

The Talisker Atlantic challenge will launch on 12/12/2022, visit www.thisgirlrows.com  to learn more about Lara's incredible challenge and sponsorship opportunities.

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