Attempted Solo crossing of the Zero Degree Channel in the Maldives [29th March – 2nd April 2010]

International volunteer programme << Photo: Jewels Images Zero Degree Crossing 2010

This spring Olympic rower Guin Batten will attempt a solo crossing of the Zero Degree Channel in the Maldives. Using a standard coastal rowing boat she will to take on the mighty Indian Ocean as it passes between the paradise Atolls that boarder the equator. Strong tides, huge ocean swells, the unremitting heat and unpredictable storms are just some of the challenges she needs to cope with if she hopes to become the first person to achieve the solo crossing.

Background

Historically rowing is embedded in the culture of the people of Maldives both as a means of transport and as a sport. In the last 30 years various factors have led to its decline. As a physical activity rowing is well suited to maritime environment of the Maldives, and as such would be an ideal sport to improve the health and wellbeing of the population; male and female, young and old alike.

"Patron: His Excellency the President of the Maldives"

Guin Batten is a world renowned rower who won an Olympic silver medal at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 and in 2003 broke the world record for crossing the English Channel. She crossed in an Olympic Class rowing boat that was only 30cm wide and weighted just 14kgs, interestingly her time of 3hours 14 minutes is some 8 minutes quicker than the men’s rowing record.

Objectives of the crossing:

  • To be the first person to solo the zero degree channel in a rowing boat.
  • To raise the profile of rowing in the Maldives and to revive the sport to help increase the general health and wellbeing of the people.
  • To raise international awareness of the threat of climate change on the Maldives.
  • To support the ambition of a woman’s rowing centre on the Gaaf Dhaal Atoll.

The crossing

The channel is known as the Zero Degree Channel (Addoo Kandu) and is approximately 60km wide. It cuts the equator between the Huvadhoo Atoll and the Foammulah Island. Guin will make the cross using a standard FISA coastal single sculling boat that is 6m long, 78cm wide and weighs just 35kg. She will be accompanied by a local support/safety vessel and is expecting to take between 8-10 hours averaging speeds of between 8 -6 km/hour.

"I am delighted to hear that Ms. Guin Batten, an Olympic medalist and world renowned rower, will attempt to become the first person to row the zero degree channel in the Maldives. I hope Ms. Batten's efforts will be a catalyst for the revival of rowing in the Maldives. I wish Ms. Batten the best of luck." H.E. President Mohamed Nasheed. Patron

"Living in the midst of these beautiful lagoons, our women have rowed to work, leisure and self-determination. Inspired by the formidable Ms. Guin Batten, it is only natural that we should aim to row our way to the Olympics one day." Hon. Umar Jamaal, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Upper South Province

"It is a great honour for our people that the Olympic medalist, Ms. Guin Batten has chosen the zero degree channel in the Maldives to try and become the first person to row across it. I wish Guin all the best and hope that this will enable us to host a world-class coastal rowing competition in the near future." H.E. Farah Faizal, High Commissioner to the United Kingdom

"Last year I spoke to a number of the top female athletes in the Maldives and they have a passion and grace that comes from doing sport; it is really exciting to have the invitation to take on the challenge of the crossing and an honour to have the opportunity of supporting local women to row." Guin Batten, Solo Rower

Zero degrees crossing 2010 team

  • Patron: His Excellency the President of the Maldives
  • Crossing leader & rower: Guin Batten: guin.batten@youthsporttrust.org mobile (+44) 7710 457 442
  • Sponsorship: Dr Farah Faizal High Commissioner for the Maldives in London farah@maldiveshighcommission.org (+44)7854 158825
  • Maldives crossing coordinator and local media contact: Umar Jamaal, Minster of State Home Affairs Upper South Province umarjamaal@hotmail.com Mobile (960) 7772332
  • UK crossing coordinator and liaison: David Hardingham, Honorary Consul for the Maldives in Salisbury davehardingham@gmail.com (+44)7812 166453
  • Medical Team: Dr Chris Dalley and Lucy Johnson
  • Meteorological coordinator: Graham Merrick
  • Artwork and Design by Naushad Waheed

 

Acknowledgments

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