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Team Excelsioar complete Atlantic Row with ‘flare’

Team Excelsioar flares

After 60 days, 13 hours and 32 minutes, this courageous trio made up of Caroline Hague, Rachel Smillie, and Nicki Kelly – crossed the finish line of the World’s Toughest Row on Sunday 11 February 2024 at 18.07 local time, aboard their trusty boat, “Dolly Parton”.

Having rowed 3,000 miles across the Atlantic, these inspiring women battled every challenge the ocean could throw at them, including knockdowns, broken oars, brutal conditions, and enormous waves – and that’s all before considering the resilience needed to be rowing in constant shifts, not being able to lie flat, and having a bucket as your toilet.

All proud members of the Eton Excelsior rowing club, these ladies have trained diligently on the waters between Maidenhead and Windsor, constantly pushing their limits and setting records. Yet, the challenges faced during this crossing undoubtedly stretched those limits even further. Despite initial struggles pushing south and some complications in the north, the team never wavered in their determination to reach Antigua.

Reflecting on what they learned about the Atlantic, Rachel shared, “I was surprised how quickly it can change. We could be in flat calm water, like a glassy lake at 8 am, and by 9 am, we would be looking up at waves that we couldn’t understand the physics of how we were still on top of them.”

Caroline added, “There were so many different states it could be in. It can be calm, it can be wavy. The changes are subtle, and sometimes I didn’t even realise it had changed.”

Nicky noted, “You look out to infinity, and you think, how amazing is that?! We’ve got all this all to ourselves.  It’s just magical!”

And indeed, so was your arrival.

We take immense pride in having been the headline sponsors for this extraordinary trio. With new branding arriving for Val Wyatt in 2024, it is an honour for our trusty gold sail boat logo to have been carried across the Atlantic by these courageous women for its last outing.

Watch Team Excelsioar’s emotional and inspiring arrival in Antigua on the World’s Toughest Row YouTube channel here: Race Finish Livestream – Team Excelsioar (

Team Excelsioar not only conquered the waves but have also raised over £40,000 for The Dash Charity & Thames Hospice, showcasing their commitment to causes close to their hearts. Donations and contributions can still be made via their gofundme page.

Heartfelt congratulations to Team Excelsioar – a well-deserved celebration awaits you!


La Gomera ➡️ Antigua 🌊 3,000 miles

YouTube Link:

Fundraising Link:

Photo Credit: World’s Toughest Row