30th December 2015

Off to row an ocean – Janette Benaddi

HealthyHappy50 Yorkshire Rows Off to row an ocean….. Our Interview with Janette Benaddi

{Photo: Helen, Niki, Janette & Frances}

I’m thrilled to introduce you to Janette Benaddi from North Yorkshire, who, with friends Niki Doeg, Helen Butters and Frances Davies, is about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime! On 15th December, the Yorkshire Rows team will set off from La Gomera, one of the Canary Islands, and row across the Atlantic Ocean as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Their goal is to reach Antigua, in the Caribbean, and in doing so, they will become the oldest all-women crew to row any ocean. If they reach Antigua in less than 51 days, they will also become the fastest four women to row the Atlantic. The team are also fundraising for Maggie’s Centres and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (details at the end of Janette’s story!)

Despite being incredibly busy preparing for the challenge, Janette very kindly took some time to share her inspiring story with us.

HealthyHappy50 Yorkshire RowsWhich sport do you enjoy?

I love rowing, which I took up 4 years ago, aged 47.

Have you always been sporty?

I used to be sporty when I was younger. After having children, I seemed to have very little time for it. I continued playing hockey until I was 40 and then did nothing until I was 47, when I started rowing for the first time.

Why did you stop playing hockey?

I stopped due to work and family commitments. Trying to fit everything in wasn’t easy. I felt quite guilty playing hockey at the weekend and being away from the family at a match all day, when I had already been really busy working hard during the week and hardly seeing them.

How did you start rowing?

My son was 12 at the time and was enjoying rowing at school. It sounded fun and I thought if I started, we would have something in common to talk about once he became a teenager. Unfortunately, I started and he stopped! He preferred rugby and hockey, and also wasn’t keen on his Mum taking part in a head (time trial competition) at the same time as him!

Can you tell us about your training for the Atlantic Challenge?

I weight train 3 times a week and am on the rowing machine 3 times a week too. We have also done a lot of on the water training in preparation, including rowing across the North Sea (more on that later!). When I started rowing I was surprised that I even struggled to do a jumping jack! Now I am much more flexible and fitter! I have always found gym work totally boring and it is not easy to motivate myself, however, it is a necessary part of the training for the Atlantic.

How do you feel when you are rowing?

I love it – I am really in the zone. It’s truly a team sport as you need to be in sync with the other rowers and keep going!

How has rowing enhanced your life?

One of my main motivations for starting was to lose weight and keep fit. I now sleep better and feel I have more energy. However, it has become so much more than that. I am pushing myself further and it is an amazing feeling knowing I have already rowed across the North Sea. I have had some amazing experiences through this adventure and made some wonderful friends for life.

HealthyHappy50 Yorkshire RowsWho inspires you?

The people who inspire me most are those who work hard and do well, in spite of difficulties in their lives. I recently watched ‘Unbroken’, the story of an amazing man stranded at sea and in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. This is the kind of person who inspires me.

What has been your greatest achievement in rowing so far?

My greatest achievement to date is certainly when we rowed across the North Sea and were the first women to row from the UK to Holland. 120 miles in 48 hours in tough conditions. One of our crew suffered such severe seasickness she couldn’t row. This meant that 3 of us rowed for 1 hour, then rested for 30 minutes, continuously for 48 hours, all in wind, rain and rough seas. It was tough but incredibly amazing.

What are the three best things about rowing?

The three best things are:

a) the amazing and wonderful people I have had the pleasure to meet
b) the courage it gives me to tackle anything
c) it is very helpful in keeping me fit and fairly controlled with my weight!

What are the worst things about rowing?

The three worst things are:

a) it is sometimes difficult to go out in bad weather (I won’t have any choice about that on the Atlantic so I have had to get used to that!)
b) it can sometimes be a strain on my back so I have had some chiropractor therapy

What is your favourite piece of kit?

My rowing gloves, which help keep the blisters at bay and in cold weather, my hands warm. Ask me what it is when I have rowed the Atlantic!

What is your favourite song to train to?

I love all sorts of songs and will have at least 2000 to listen to on the Atlantic! One of my favourites is Tina Turner’ ‘Simply The Best’. I will also listen to some audio books.

What is your favourite food in training?

During training I eat chocolate and after a nice cup of Earl Grey tea and chocolate or cake!

HealthyHappy50 Yorkshire Rows

Do you have a favourite website for your sport:

British Rowing www.britishrowing.org is the website for rowers. At present, I am more glued to the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge www.TaliskerWhiskyAtlanticChallenge.com!

What would you advise someone who was thinking about taking up a new sport but was a little unsure?

I would say: Don’t even think about it, just do it! What have you got to lose?

I thought rowing was really elitist and I wouldn’t fit in but that’s not the case.

Most sports attract people from all walks of life. If you’re feeling embarrassed or worried about not fitting in, believe me, you are the only one thinking that.

I would also say, think about how amazing it will feel to get out of your comfort zone. It is exhilarating!

What practical tips would you suggest to someone interested in taking up rowing?

Look for a local club on a river near you or visit British Rowing www.britishrowing.org.

HealthyHappy50 Yorkshire RowsDo you have a mantra you live by?

My personal motto is ‘Someday I won’t be able to do this, today is not that day’.

Our Yorkshire Rows team motto is ‘It’ll be fine!’ as we prepare to row the Atlantic!

Can you tell us a little bit more about what it takes to row an ocean?

Preparing to row an ocean takes a good 3 years. The last 3 years of my, my family and my friends’ lives has been totally consumed by rowing. I thought I was a busy person before I took on the challenge, now I know there is always room for a little extra if you have to fit it in. I realise now that the excuse ‘I don’t have time is really lame.’ We always have time for the things we really want to do if we do indeed truly want to do them. When I come back from rowing the Atlantic I will have a lot of time! In addition, to rowing and being a Mum, I won’t also be preparing to row an ocean. I might need something to fill the hole!

This blog is called HealthyHappy50. With the lessons you have learned over the years, what would you tell your 20 year old self about health and happiness?

Isn’t age a wonderful thing? You learn what you should have learnt 20 years too late most of the time! I would say:

If you had told me 4 years ago that I would row across the North Sea, I would have laughed at you. If you told me I would row across the Atlantic, I would have thought you were crazy… And here I am – about to set off!

Can you tell us a little more about your career & family?

I’m 51 and married to Ben, with 2 children – Safiya (14) and James (18). I left school with minimal qualifications at 16 & started working as a receptionist in a doctors’ surgery as I had no idea what I wanted to do. After a while I decided I wanted to be a nurse, so went to night school to study and qualified in 1984. After working hard for many years, I moved into health sales and eventually into research. I was ambitious and worked my way up, working in Paris for some years. When we returned to England, my husband was just starting university and I was pregnant with James. I had no choice but to go out and find some freelance work. Seventeen years later, with the help of my wonderful husband, I had built up a very successful medical research company, which I sold 2 years ago. It was a hard slog for both of us over the years, but we are now fortunate enough to be able to enjoy our lives and spend time with family, friends and those that matter to us.


How can we keep up with your adventure & donate to your fundraising for Maggie’s Centres and Yorkshire Air Ambulance?

Here are our details:

Facebook: Facebook/Yorkshire Rows2015

Twitter: @yorkshirerows

Website: http://www.yorkshirerows.com


Text ROWS88 £5 to 70070 for Maggie’s Centres

Text ROWS91 £5 to 70070 for Yorkshire Air Ambulance

Blog: blog.mailasail.com

Race Info: www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com

And of course, look out for Yorkshire Rows on BBC Breakfast!

Wow, what a great story and thank you so much for being part of healthyhappy50.com Janette!

We are really grateful and I am sure our readers will be inspired by your adventure and attitude.

Good luck and we will be following you across the Atlantic!

Jo x

{All photos courtesy of Yorkshire Rows – The Fantastic Four!}

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2 responses to “Off to row an ocean – Janette Benaddi”

  1. Fantastic!! What an awesome challenge to be involved in and what an inspiration for other women out there who also want to get back into sport and fitness. Very inspirational and I love the fact that doing more exercise has made her sleep better and given her more energy! If you have a dream and want to do something – GO and do it!! Age is just a number!!! Sarah x

    • JoMoseley says:

      Thank you Sarah! Janette’s story is so wonderful and I keep imagining the Yorkshire Rows team out on the Atlantic Ocean right now! I love your toughgirlchallenges.com blog too and all the fabulous women of all ages you talk to. Have a great 2016 and looking forward to following your adventures ! Jo 🙂 x

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