Botwc Firsts

Team Antigua Island Girls Are Now The First All-Black Team to Row Across the Atlantic

Team Antigua Island Girls Are Now The First All-Black Team to Row Across the Atlantic

Photo: Team Antigua Island Girls

As you know from our BOTWC Box, Black History isn’t just reserved for the past, and it’s not just about celebrating those that have come and gone before us. Every day there are new accomplishments and achievements to celebrate and honor as proof that we can literally do anything we put our minds to. Our latest inspiration? 

An all-Black women rowing team collectively known as the Team Antigua Island Girls.

Representing for the Caribbean, the team is comprised of women who have already made an impact in their own individual ways: Christal Clashing, the first female swimmer to represent Antigua and Barbuda at the Olympics; Elvira Bell, Level 2 Learn-to-swim Instructor and a certified health coach; Samara Emmanuel, the first Antiguan woman to become an RYA certified yacht captain; Kevinia Francis, the visionary of the group and a title-winning, all-around athlete who excels in basketball, cycling, martial arts and track-and-field; and Junella King, a sailing instructor, who, as the youngest member of the team, turned 18-years-old right before the race. While King did not participate in the historic race, she trained with the team and served as an alternate. 

“Growing up, I know I used to look at certain sports and say, ‘Okay, I can’t do that because I’m not white. White people don’t do this sport and Black people don’t do this sport,’” Francis revealed to Essence. “So it’s about breaking down those misconceptions and those barriers. We can actually do any sport that we choose. You just need to have determination, dedication, practice, and get out there.”

Photo: Team Antigua Island Girls

Together, the team completed the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge last month. Hailed as the world’s toughest rowing challenge, it involved a 3,000 mile trip from the Canary Islands to the team’s home in Antigua.

After battling seasickness, fatigue, a near capsize on Friday night, and other obstacles, the Antiqua Observer reported that as the women rowed into the country’s historic Nelson’s Dockyard, they became the first all-Black team to row across the Atlantic ocean. 

Even more incredible? According to Essence, the crew had no previous rowing experience before 2018. The squad is also intentional about giving back to their communities and have a charity, Cottage of Hope, which offers short-and-long term residency to girls who are abused, neglected or orphaned.