A former Ripon Grammar School student is among an all-women team of three rowing the gruelling 3,000 mile Atlantic Ocean race, one of the toughest in the world.

Bobbie Mellor, who confesses she was never sporty at school took up rowing during the pandemic.

With her Wavebreaker team-mates, Bobbie is 2,000 miles into the race having set off from La Gomera in the Canaries in December with a fleet of 38 other crews for Antigua in the Caribbean.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Bobbie and team-mates tackle the 3,000 mile challenge

Rowing two hours on two hours off for anything up to 50 days, they’ve been battling sleep deprivation, salt sores, physical extremes, and the psychological challenges of the open ocean, with their sights set on raising money to help protect people on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

Bobbie, 34, global head of sustainability for Vodafone, and teammates Hatty Carder and Katherine Antrobus have been training for more than two years to join the ranks of fewer than one hundred women in history to attempt the journey.

She said: "First and foremost, I’m rowing the Atlantic in support of charities tackling the climate crisis. What better way to raise money and awareness, than to go back to basics and cross an ocean powered just by our own oars.

"I’ve always been quite adventurous, but the pandemic really gave me a new hunger to do big things with the life we have and jump on every opportunity that comes my way."

Her mother, Bridget, has been cheering her on from home in Burton Leonard, near Ripon, and plans a welcome home party in February. She has been lighting candles at her local Catholic church praying for their safe return.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Bobbie Mellow is hoping to be one of only 100 women to have finished the race

Bridget said: "At first, I was absolutely terrified at the thought of them rowing unsupported. Tackling waves of up to thirty feet high, at one point their boat capsized and two of the team fell in the water but managed to get back on board once the vessel self-righted."

They are surviving on freeze-dried food and drink ocean water filtered through a desalinator, with communication home extremely limited.

Her mother said Bobbie is desperate for a glass of sparkling fresh water, adding: "Bobbie was not particularly sporty at school, not very good at PE, and she has joked how her old teacher Mrs Bottomley would be shocked at what she’s doing now. I am very proud of her, and all the girls in the team. They have worked really hard and done lots of training. It’s very uplifting to know there are still young people willing to push themselves to the limit and challenge themselves for good causes."

Darlington and Stockton Times: Bobbie and her Wavebreakers team-mates

The Wavebreakers have reached £74,500 so far towards their £140,000 fundraising target for the two climate crisis charities close to their hearts: the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Crisis Fund and the UNHCR’s Climate Crisis Work, which provides humanitarian relief to refugees displaced by climate crisis.

"Our campaign will protect those on the frontlines of the climate crisis: our most vulnerable animal species and climate refugees. Together there is still time to make an impact,” says Bobbie, who left Ripon Grammar School 17 years ago to study at University College London and the London School of Economics.

In the past, she has cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats with her sister Rachael, another RGS past pupil now working as a GP, to raise money for Cancer Research, and also climbed Kilimanjaro for charity.

Every Wavebreakers donation will be doubled by the Vodafone Foundation. Donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/wavebreakers2023 Follow the team on the YB Races app and website (https://www.ybtracking.com), or on Instagram @wavebreakers2023,