South Coast crew make history as first all-female team to cross Bass Strait

February 13, 2023 12:01 pm in by

A small group of South Coast Surf Lifesavers have pushed through a gruelling 320km journey to become the first all-female crew to cross the notorious Bass Strait.

The Eurobodalla’s Michelle Cottington, Shannon Small, Ashley Bujeya, Taryn Carver and 23-year-old Topaz Eaton, were part of an eight-person crew who left Victoria for Tasmania last weekend.

After a total journey with plenty of ups and downs, the team were thrilled to arrive in Little Musselroe Bay in Tasmania’s North East – just after midday on Saturday (February 11).

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Despite facing strong winds, currents and swells as well as pain, blisters and sea sickeness, all of the women were resolute in their motivation to go the distance to raise money for the Red Nose Australia and Sudden Infant Death Syndrom (SIDS) research.

One of the rowers, Shannon Small, from the Broulee Surfers Surf Life Saving Club told East Coast Radio the girls were strong throughout but elated when it was finally time to celebrate.

“We had one of our support crew, Rob, he had champagne all over us and we had a couple of beers coming in which was pretty special,” Small said.

“Just arriving to shore on the surfboat all together with pretty amazing and by the time we done it we were all very emotional so it was really nice to have so much support their on the shore to greet us as well, it was pretty special.”

“There was a lot of sea sickness througout the journey, about half to three quarters of our crew were sick but then still getting in the boat to row,” she said.

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“So vomiting in the boat but still rowing, it was just a mammoth effort from the crew.”

Last Monday saw them claim a world record for the longest surf boat row for male and females in a single day – with the team rowing a whopping 89km in one day.

“We didn’t set out to do that but we’re super proud of ourselves and just to be part of it,” Small said.

“We started about 4am that morning and pulled in about 4:20pm, so it was a 12 hour day and we were up against some of the roughest seas we’d ever been in,” she said.

“We were thrilled to get a massage and just chill when we got back, I don’t think we’ll be rushing back into a surf boat any time soon.”

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The final amount raised by the team for the Red Nose Foundation is still being tallied.

Images: MusselRowers – Womens Red Nose Bass Strait Crossing


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