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Cludo CEO Takes on Atlantic Ocean Rowing Challenge

Cludo CEO Anne-Marie Feilberg is intrigued to find out who she is when everything in her life is peeled away and her only objective every day is to eat, sleep and row in the Atlantic Ocean.

Her life is filled with her family and career. But when she doesn’t have the Mom and CEO titles and the daily distractions of life, who is she going to be on an ocean with only her two teammates as company for 50 days?

“How will I motivate myself and my team when my body and mind want to stop? It’s a feeling that’s hard to explain,” Feilberg said.

The Atlantic Challenge

Feilberg has spent the past 18 months mentally and physically preparing to row 5,000 kilometers across the Atlantic Ocean as part of team Rowmodels in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. She and her two teammates, Marie Adserballe and Camilla Tvernø, will be the first Danish all-female team to participate. Of the 50 teams in this year’s challenge, only five are all women.

Feilberg’s team will head out from the Canary Islands on December 12 to row to Antigua. They’re anticipating it’ll take 45-50 days to complete the challenge and they’ll be rowing 14 hours per day per person. Two people will row for two hours with a one-hour break during the daytime and one person will row at night for two hours while they alternate four-hour breaks.

Setting a world record isn’t the highest priority for them. Instead, they want to have the best crossing they can while enjoying this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“If a dolphin pod pops up, we want to be able to take the time to be in the moment without the pressure to be the first team,” she said. 

But they have to be in it for the long haul. The winds and current are expected to be so strong they can’t turn around and they can’t sit in the middle of the ocean waiting for someone to pick them up. The only way forward is to overcome the obstacles as a team and keep going.

The Motivation

Feilberg and her teammates aren’t extreme sports athletes. Her previous rowing experience has been short distances on lakes as a kid. Their team name, Rowmodels, stems from their top priority: being role models for their kids. That has evolved to include being role models for women too. They’re often asked how they could take on this challenge as mothers because they’re leaving their kids for a long period of time – a question Feilberg doubts anyone would ask a man participating in the challenge.

It’s a long time to be away from their families, but they’re showing their kids how to set goals, get out of their comfort zone and explore the unexpected. Women have a tendency to put themselves on the back burner. She hopes this challenge will show other women that they can break out of the ordinary to do something extraordinary, even if it’s a smaller action than rowing across an ocean.

“We’re three women over 40 years old. We’re probably stronger than when we were 25 and all our wisdom in life makes us a better team,” she said.

As Cludo’s CEO, it’s also a great opportunity to show employees that it’s okay to enjoy life sometimes, and how much trust she has in her team to keep Cludo running on all cylinders in her absence. Initially hesitant to be the team captain because she regularly leads in her life, she was elected captain because of her experience in making decisions in stressful and difficult situations. She believes it’s important for a person to lean into their best capabilities while acknowledging others’ strengths.

Preparing For an Ocean Crossing

In 2018, Feilberg worked out at the same gym as the first Danish male team to compete in the Atlantic Challenge. She was fascinated to follow their preparations and it gave her an inkling that she’d like to try it. The challenge has a five- to six-year waiting list, but she heard there was a chance for a Danish boat to enter in 2022.

Feilberg has enjoyed training for the challenge because she can focus on one training session at a time instead of taking on the larger project all at once. They’ve been building their strength to sit down for 50 days and their muscle mass because they’ll be losing it while burning around 4,000-5,000 calories per day. Additionally, they’ve been doing yoga to be as flexible as possible. Outside the gym, they’ve learned everything from ocean rowing techniques to sea rescues to fixing a boat’s rudder.

A mental coach has worked with them on their team dynamics and their reactions in different situations, especially when they’re tired and stressed. They can’t simulate exact situations as they’ll face on the ocean, but they’ve done activities such as walking 100 kilometers in less than 24 hours to test how they’ll react under extreme pressure.

The boat is in the water! Rowmodels in San Sebastián De La Gomera on December 5, 2022.

The Expectations

Feilberg expects her biggest challenges to be missing her family and, after a while, questioning herself. But she’s excited to see who she is in the moments when it really matters on the ocean and how the team seizes each day.

“Some teams say they want to conquer the ocean. But you’re a little speck in the second largest ocean and it will eat you for breakfast. I want to ensure that we have the agility to make the best decisions so we can enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said.

To follow along on their journey, visit the Rowmodels website or Instagram! Hear more from Anne-Marie below.