Roz Savage, Northwich's intrepid rower (with audio)
Northwich's Roz Savage gave up everything to achieve her dream. She is now hoping to become the first woman to have rowed the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans<br/>WORDS BY EMMA MAYOH
I always felt like I had some purpose in life but I didn’t really know what it was,’ admits Roz Savage. ‘I was a child of Thatcher’s Britain, living a yuppie lifestyle that wasn’t right for me and something had to happen.’
What Roz did next was drastic. She left her husband, quit her high salary job as a management consultant and had nowhere to live. Her life lay in tatters. But now the 42-year-old has a smile as wide as the Atlantic - an ocean she rowed across on her own a few years ago.
‘Getting rid of my old lifestyle was traumatic,’ she says. ‘I kept wondering if there was something wrong with me because all my friends were perfectly happy. But that sense of purpose was missing.
‘I wanted something simpler and a bit more meaningful. I realised I wasn’t on track for living the life I wanted. I had to let go of everything before I could find out what that might be. Once I did, it was an incredible feeling to be aware your life is so full of opportunity. I could get addicted to the feeling.’
Roz has not wasted any of her opportunities. It was meeting a man, while travelling alone in Peru, who had rowed across the Atlantic with his mother that prompted Roz to take up sea rowing. She had been a member of a rowing team while at university in Oxford and thought she might give it a try.
‘I had always been an armchair adventurer,’ she says. ‘I loved reading books about people who had sailed around the world or climbed mountains. I never imagined I could ever do that sort of thing.
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‘When I heard about sea rowing I thought ‘Well, I know how to row’. Luckily at that stage I didn’t appreciate the difference between rowing on a river and rowing in 20ft waves. Sometimes there’s a lot to be said for blissful ignorance.’
Since then Roz has ploughed her entire life savings into taking on some of the world’s biggest oceans. After completing obligatory training in things like sea survival and astro navigation, she took part in the Atlantic Rowing Race, known as the ultimate rowing contest. She has since taken on the Pacific Ocean in three mammoth stages and is now planning her biggest challenge yet, to row across the Indian Ocean.
Roz, who relies on friends and volunteers to help her overcome these mammoth challenges, says: ‘It will take me four to five months and it will be the longest row I’ve ever done. It’s going to be tough. I really want to do it. If I do I will be the first woman to have done the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean.’
Roz has rowed alongside huge blue whale sharks and seen ‘some of the most incredible sunsets and sunrises you will ever see’ but she has also risked her life in battles against the wild seas.
And now she is using these challenges as a way to raise awareness of the environment. As well as being an ambassador for environmental charities and organisations, she is a United Nations Climate Hero, a presenter for the Climate Project and an athlete ambassador for 350.org. She is also encouraging people to do one good thing a day to help the world, thorough her website www.ecoheroes.me.
‘We are getting ourselves more and more into an environmental crisis,’ she says. ‘We really need to look at what we are doing. When I got the clarity that I needed to change my life I also realised that if we all carried on the way we are, we were going to end up trashing the planet. It was the one thing that I felt was necessary to change. I hope people realise I’m doing my bit to try and help.’
Roz, who has written her own book about rowing across the Atlantic, has had to have strong mental and physical determination. It has taken a mountain of audio books and plenty of counting to 500 over and over again to get her through it. But she admits that without her mother, Rita, and the childhood she had in Cheshire, it would have been impossible.
‘It’s those formative years that make you the person you are,’ Roz says. ‘Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money but that experience made me realise that money isn’t important.
‘It has been a real emotional rollercoaster even before I got into a boat. But my mum has got me through it all. I speak to her most days when I’m out rowing and she never knows what she’s going to get. I couldn’t have done it without her.
‘I had a few terrible moments along the way but there was no way I was going to give up on this dream. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing but I was going to push on regardless. I’m a woman on a mission now. I feel now that I’ve found something to be proud of and it is an incredible feeling.’ Keep track of Roz’s progress at www.rozsavage.com and www.ecoheroes.me.
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This recording is courtesy of The Macclesfield & District Talking Newspaper For The Blind
The Macclesfield & District Talking Newspaper For The Blind produces an 80 minute weekly recording of local news and an additional 80 minute audio magazine which are sent free of charge to around 200 blind and visually impaired people who live in Macclesfield, Bollington, Poynton, Prestbury and surrounding districts or who have links with the area.They have been providing this service for more than 35 years. All volunteers are unpaid and our work does not attract statutory funding of any kind.
For more information please look at the charity's website, www.macctn.org.uk