learn from the Rowing pros: cross atlantic Challenge team about skin care and isolation
Meike, Timna, Steffi and Catharina are team RowHHome. Earlier this year the four women from Hamburg rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in a race known to be the toughest of it’s kind. The ladies set a new record at the so-called Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and became the fastest Germans to ever cross this ocean in a rowing boat. Meike Ramuschkat, Catharina “Cätschi“ Streit, Timna Bicker and Steffi Kluge spend 42 days and 46 minutes on their boat “Doris”. Together they conquered rough seas, big waves as well as hot tropical climate and sunshine on their way from La Gomera, Canary Islands to the Caribbean Island Antigua. Fair to say the four ladies are pros in terms of protecting their skin from the elements and well…what to do during isolation. SWOX sun protection was their official skin care partner. Now’s the time to ask them a few urgent questions.
SWOX: Can you please introduce yourselves and tell us how you started RowHHome?
Meike, RowHHome: We are Meike Ramuschkat, 33yo, Catharina “Cätschi“ Streit, 33yo, Timna Bicker, 26yo and Steffi Kluge, 51yo. Cätschi and I had the idea to take part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. At first, in spring 2017 Cätschi saw a documentary on TV about four British moms, who rowed the 2015 challenge and called me. “We have to do this“, she said. Back then, I didn’t think so at all and was not convinced. At the end of the year I spent my December vacation on La Gomera, and randomly got to experience the start of the race there. The spirit and the atmosphere convinced me. While I was still standing at the landing stage in La Gomera – the boats hadn’t even left yet – I called her and said “Cätschi, you were right, we have to do this!” From there everything just ran its course. We had zero rowing experience. So first off we joined our neighborhood rowing club. This is where we initially met Steffi and Timna. Steffi is Timna’s Mom and they’ve been rowing for many years.
SWOX: How did a normal day on board of your boat “Doris“ look like?
Meike, RowHHome: Except for the first few days, our daily routine was pretty much the same every single day. We rowed 24/7. We had to alternate every two hours – rowing two hours, resting two hours. Even at night, we didn’t get a longer break from rowing, unless someone was seasick, which happened to some of us for quite some time. Part of our routine was to apply sunscreen at first light in the morning, because the sun on the open ocean is just implacable. We had the tan of a lifetime, a healthy one though. Sometimes we wore sun protective clothing and other times we rowed in our bikinis. Who ever was on break would make fresh water with the desalination unit on board, to generate drinking water but also for cooking. We had to closely monitor our course and our battery charge. Another to-do was to keep the solar panels clean. At nighttime we slept and during the day we rested with music, audio books or podcasts.
Photo: Ben Duffy // RowHHome’s Meike Ramuschkat before and after the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge
SWOX: The before-and-after pictures from the RowHHome team draw a lot of attention. Who took them and what do you see when you look at them?
Meike, RowHHome: Ben Duffy, a photographer who is a regular at the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge took these before-and-after pictures. In my portrait from before the race I see a lot of tension about not knowing what’s coming. In the second picture from after the race, I can read my story from 42 days at sea and a big relief.
SWOX: Together with your skin and hair your look completely changed during the race. How did you guys change “inside”, your mindset and maybe your relationships with each other?
Meike, RowHHome: As I said, for me this was the tan of a lifetime or at least of the last few years. On top of that, it was especially interesting to see how our skin and our hair adapted to the lesser personal care available. The change that went on “inside” is hard to describe in a few sentences. We had a lot of emotional moments at sea. Thus learned a lot about ourselves and about each other, especially how we deal with difficult situations. We grew immensely on a personal level. We are very thankful for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Not many people will be able to experience what we experienced. We know we are very privileged.
Photo: Ben Duffy // RowHHome’s Steffi Kluge and daughter Timna Bicker before and after the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge
SWOX: With your results, team RowHHome was the fasted German rowing boat ever to cross the Atlantic Ocean. How important was it for you guys to be a women-only team – Did you guys consider male team members at any point?
Meike, RowHHome: When we first started thinking about a team for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge we had a women-only team in mind. However when we started to ask around, the women were rather reluctant, so we did consider male team members. But in the end our dream of a women-only team came true. Four “Hamburger Deerns” (“Girls from Hamburg”) – that’s just a really cool story and we are very proud of what we achieved.
SWOX: While everybody is somewhat isolated at the moment, you guys seem to be the isolation-pros. What’s your take on it – do you guys have any advice for us how to deal with isolation?
Meike, RowHHome: Aside from conversations with each other, the only entertainment we’ve had on board was listening to music, podcasts and audiobooks and of course watching unbelievable views of the ocean and the horizon during the day and at night. Sometimes wild, sometimes very quiet, then grey or pretty dark, sometimes golden and silver sunlight glare. I think it all comes down to how content you feel about yourself. To be happy about what you have. On board of Doris I once more realized myself how little you really need to be happy. I recommend to take a deep breath and to think about what you are thankful for – every single day. Think about the little details you are thankful for, like a sunset or a song during a perfect moment. Just give it a try!
Photo: Ben Duffy // RowHHome’s Catharina “Cätschi” Streit before and after the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge