A FORMER Peebles High School pupil is gearing up to row across the Atlantic Ocean in a one-of-a-kind boat.

Sarah Hunt, 31, is a member of an all-female rowing team, the Bristol Gulls, who have signed up to take part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in December.

Ms Hunt, originally from Skirling in Peeblesshire, will row 3,000 nautical miles with her three teammates during an event dubbed “the world’s toughest row”.

"I'm so excited,” Ms Hunt said. “Just to be doing it with three other women who are massively inspirational and to be supporting the charities."

The team will travel from La Gomera – one of the Canary Islands – to Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean.

The charities they have chosen to support are Portishead RNLI and Clean Up Bristol Harbour.

The Bristol Gulls will be the first team in the fixture’s history to compete in a completely eco-friendly vessel – the Rannoch Eco-boat Mk1 – featuring a foam core made from 10,000 500ml plastic bottles.

The Border Telegraph asked Ms Hunt, an aerospace engineer for Rolls Royce, how it feels to be on the verge of making competition history.

She said: "It's really exciting – I always describe it as stories for your grandkids.

"This is something that we can really shout about.

"It's nothing groundbreaking, there's nothing revolutionary about this, but it's the way that we're using it.

"It's about getting us to a more sustainable way of travelling.

"We hope that this boat is mark one, that it's going to be the start of a new way of doing things.

"And that's what it takes, it takes someone doing something differently and being a bit bold and ‘out there’ to initiate that change."

Participating in the Talisker challenge requires months of training – and despite gyms being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ms Hunt and her teammates have found ways around the restrictions so they are ready for December.

"The physical training, which as you can imagine, with all the gyms being closed, we've not really been able to train together," Ms Hunt said.

"We've got a wonderful coach who’s helping us, but that's all been over Zoom so far.

"Hopefully we'll be able to get back in the gym because down in England it looks like it's easing up a bit now.

"The other side is the mental training, and coronavirus has actually been pretty good for that side in terms of just having a lot of time to be challenged in terms of work.

"And being a little bit isolated is not too different from what we'll have on the ocean."

The other members of the Bristol Gulls are captain Sofia Deambrosi and Ms Hunt’s fellow crew members, Lorna Carter and Phoebe Wright.

The team are hoping to raise £45,000 to get them to the starting line of the race. They aim to recoup costs after they reach the Caribbean by selling their boat.

The team have set up a 'buy a mile' fundraiser where supporters pay £1 for a mile of their journey and write a message which will be read out at sea.

To follow the team's progress, visit: www.thebristolgulls.com and the Bristol Gulls' fundraising page can be found at: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/the-bristol-gulls