In an extraordinary feat of courage and determination, Leanne Maiden, a 42-year-old amateur rower residing in Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, is gearing up to embark on a solo row across the treacherous Atlantic Ocean. Maiden, who moved to Scotland two decades ago from South Africa, aims to become the first South African woman to complete the nearly 3,000-mile journey as part of the World’s Toughest Row race.
The ambitious journey is set to kick off on Wednesday 13th December 2023, commencing from San Sebastian, La Gomera in the Canary Islands, and concluding at Nelson’s Dockyard on the Caribbean island of Antigua—an estimated 85-day expedition of endurance and resilience.
Describing herself as an “ordinary woman,” Maiden acknowledged that she hadn’t been in a rowing boat for over 20 years before deciding to take on this extraordinary challenge. The mother-of-two, inspired perhaps by the Covid-19 lockdown and her 40th birthday, found the courage to pursue what she once considered unimaginable.
Leanne, aware of the physical and mental toll her solo row will exact, will face sleep deprivation, salt sores, and the psychological impact of prolonged isolation on the open seas. Having not spent more than 12 hours alone before, she is uncertain how she will cope with the social isolation during the challenging journey.
However, Leanne sees this incredible undertaking not only as a personal challenge but also as an opportunity to inspire her two sons. She hopes that her journey will encourage them to embrace ambitious and unconventional goals in their own lives.
“I don’t know whether it was lockdown — which I found to be particularly tough — or turning 40, but I’d never previously considered doing anything like this until now. It will be incredibly sad to leave my children and my husband, but very few kids can say their mum rowed the Atlantic Ocean. We’ll miss each other, but I hope it will inspire them to do ambitious, crazy things themselves,” Maiden shared.
Aside from the personal challenge, Maiden is using her remarkable journey to raise funds for three charities: the Polar Academy UK, the Women’s Fund for Scotland, and the Mabel Foundation.
Facing an unexpected solo expedition after her friend withdrew for personal reasons, Maiden is determined to navigate the Atlantic and emerge victorious. Only 34 solo women are believed to have attempted this formidable challenge.
As she embarks on this unprecedented journey, Leanne’s progress can be tracked on her website she-roars.com, where friends, family, and well-wishers can follow her incredible odyssey across the vast Atlantic waters. When she eventually reaches Antigua, around 20 of her family and friends will be there to celebrate her remarkable achievement.
Leanne’s boat is called RIEKA!! Pronounced ‘Rye-Kuh‘, and is the name of my R25. It means “the power of the wolf”
And it represents the
that lies ahead.
RIEKA embodies strength, resilience, and the courage to face any challenge head-on.
You can track Team She rOars here: https://www.worldstoughestrow.com/
Follow Leanne on her website and social media:
You can support her fundraising here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/she-roars-Atlantic/
You can listen to Leanne on our podcast here: https://shows.acast.com/womens-fund-for-scotland-podcast/episodes/she-roars-scotland
Both images courtesy of Worlds Toughest Row/PA