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Victoria Evans' Atlantic Challenge halted by coronavirus travel restrictions

Victoria Evans, the lawyer who hopes 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 no experience in rowing prior to taking on the challenge, was due to start her crossing in February but saw it postponed after coronavirus travel restrictions prevented her form doing so.

Her boat awaits her in Tenerife, where she sent it following discussions with the Spanish government, but has now been told that her travel exemption cannot be fully granted, leaving her unable to reach Tenerife herself and depart for her challenge.

"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."

As part of the challenge, 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."

Evans has now switched her attentions to launching the #350Challenge, where she has invited people to cover 350 miles or 350 minutes in an activity of their choice, while raising money for Women In Sport, with 350 representing the number of miles she would have covered as part of her original challenge.

"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 added: "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 [Victoria] is showing what the world misses out on when women are sidelined and will be inspiring countless others."

Author: Jake Wilkin