Coldplay-backed Exmouth rower sets off on her 3,000-mile Atlantic challenge

Coldplay’s Adventure of a Lifetime will play out loud today as an Exmouth woman, backed by the superstar band, sets off on a 3,000-mile ocean row adventure.

There are a handful of hours to go before Claire Allinson, of Moreton Crescent, begins the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge with the Oarsome Foursome, in aid of Exmouth and Lympstone Hospiscare, Cornwall Blood Bikes, and Carefree charities.

The three women – whose boat was sponsored by global superstars Coldplay after Claire, 45, a fan of the band,  plucked up the courage to tell Chris Martin’s dad about the rowing adventure at a chance meeting earlier this year – are hoping to return to the UK as record breakers.

Claire is tackling the 3,000-mile, Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – billed as the world’s toughest row – with Bird Watts, from Mevagissey and her mum, Mo O’Brien, who is deaf, from Penzance.

The trio are due to leave San Sebastian in La Gomera, the Canary Islands, when the race starts at around 10.30am today, December 12. The Oarsome Foursome’s start time is 12.10pm.

You can watch the start live on the Talisker Whiskey Facebook page.

They will row more than 3,000 miles to Antigua, arriving at Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbour in early 2020.

You can track Claire and the Oarsome Foursome’s progress throughout the race through the team’s Facebook page, or by signing up for the YB Races tracking app.

The fourth member Linda Whittaker, from Gorran Haven, was forced to pull out of the row and transfer to ground crew because of seasickness.

Married Claire is taking her favourite band along for the adventure – she has downloaded a catalogue of Coldplay’s music to play while she rows the 3,000 miles.

Speaking from San Sebastian, Claire said: “I am really, really excited. I can’t wait to get going.

“The first two days is going to be really, really breezy with eighteen-foot waves.

“I have downloaded all my Coldplay albums. We are leaving with Coldplay’s Adventure of a Lifetime playing through the speakers.”


The team practising in San Sebastian with days to go.

Coldplay financially backed the Oarsome Foursome for an undisclosed amount after rower Claire spotted Anthony Martin – dad of Coldplay front man Chris Martin – at an event at Powderham earlier this year.

Anthony said Claire approached him and asked if he could pass on a message about the Oarsome Foursome to Chris and the band, hoping the star would Tweet about the women’s challenge to his fans.

The star’s dad spoke to Chris, and said his son declared the women’s ‘courageous’ quest a ‘magnificent venture’.

Claire cried tears of joy when she spotted Chris Martin’s social media posts to fans, about the ‘amazing’ Oarsome Foursome.

She said it was ‘surreal’ when the band financially backed the Oarsome Foursome and agreed the women could display Coldplay’s logo on their boat.

Anthony Martin joined the Oarsome Foursome in Exmouth in November for the women’s send-off celebrations at The Point Bar and Grill.


Chris Martin’s dad, Anthony, with Oarsome Foursome rower Claire Allinson, in Exmouth last month.
Photo: © East Devon News.

Claire has chosen to row for Exmouth and Lympstone Hospiscare as a nod to her dad, George Blagbrough, who died in August 2018 from bowel cancer aged 71, nine months short of his golden wedding anniversary.

Claire’s family cared for George at home with the help of hospice nurses local to his home near Leeds.

She is rowing in her dad’s memory and raising funds for Exmouth and Lympstone Hospicare to help other families needing hospice support.

After the Atlantic row challenge, the team will sell their boat and all the kit, sharing the funds between Exmouth and Lympstone Hospiscare, Cornwall Blood Bikes, and Carefree charities.

The women will spend Christmas on the boat, and plan to take 20 minutes out of their row to sing carols.

They expect to eat ration-pack hydrated turkey curry for their Christmas Day meal.

The women will have minimal contact with loved-ones back at home during the challenge to focus solely on the race.


The farewell party in Exmouth: left to right, Bird Watts, Linda Whittaker, Mo O’Brien, Exmouth and Lympstone Hospiscare’s Lucy Hancock, Claire Allinson, Nic Bathe, Oarsome Foursome media manager.
Photo: East Devon News.

Follow the OarsomeFoursome via Facebook here. To sponsor the team, visit the JustGiving page.

See the Oarsome Foursome’s website here.

To subscribe to the YB Races tracking app see here.

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