Adventurer Kiko Matthews has set a goal to become the new female world record holder to row solo 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. Kiko did not stop there. While the current record is 56 days, she’s challenged herself to cross, unsupported, in 45 days.
Fellow tall girl Kiko (a bit of a shorty at 5’9”) survived a diagnosis of Cushing’s Disease that was the result of a tumour growing on her pituitary gland. She lost muscle mass, making routine activities such as climbing the stairs incredibly difficult. Insomnia, psychosis, memory loss, and swelling were among her other symptoms. This did not stop Kiko. In fact, she resolved to spend the remainder of her life challenging herself mentally and physically. This is where our conversation begins.
Tiffany: Kiko, It’s so nice to sit down with you (via FaceTime – Kiko with a pint in hand and Tiffany enviously eyeing it from her desk). Are you an experienced rower, or is this a new pursuit in light of your upcoming trans-Atlantic journey?
Kiko: It’s a new endeavour. I’ve always been a strong and active person, but Cushing’s changed all of that quickly. I now appreciate my strength more than ever. Training also includes cycling, paddle boarding, running, press-ups, indoor rowing, and time in the boat.
Tiffany: How much time do you spend in the boat for training and how much per day on your trip across the Atlantic?
Kiko: I’ve completed 12 hour stints in training, but I could end up doing as many as 16-24 hours out on the ocean in poor weather.
Tiffany: Incredible. What are the biggest challenges you anticipate?
Kiko: Apart from the physical challenge, I think that being alone for such a long time will be difficult. Then there are the hallucinations! Apart from that, I think I’ll love it. I don’t mind small spaces and it will give me endless hours to reflect on the challenge.Tiffany: How will you stay connected with your followers?
Kiko: With the right funding, I’ll have adequate equipment and data to capture live video and share my story along the way. A documentary or book may emerge from the experience.
Tiffany: What is the source of that funding?
Kiko: In addition to my corporate sponsors, anyone can donate any amount from £1 to £65k. I’ve created a group called 100 togetHER that will allow 100 women (or women’s groups) to donate £1K each to reach my personal goal of £100K. Among my expenses are boat rental, food, clothes, insurance, shipping (for the boat’s return), and training equipment. Overages will go to the charities I support, including Kings College Hospital where I spent a month in 24 hour care during my Cushing’s episode. Another is Women in Sport which attempts to bring equality to the industry and encourage more female participation. The charity I personally founded, The Big Stand aims to empower women through adventure.
Tiffany: The Tall Guides community #teamtall is currently raising £1000 to show their support for you, which is fantastic. How else can people help?
Kiko: Any social media support will be felt and appreciated. You may follow and share my story on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Sponsorship details, charity information, videos, and more of my story can be found on my website.Tiffany: What is the core message you’d like to convey?
Kiko: I’d like to demonstrate that with dedication and support, big things can be achieved. My message is for women who would benefit from building confidence as they set their mind to things they previously believed “impossible”.
Tiffany: As a career counsellor, one comment struck me from the end of one of your videos. “Please don’t feel that you have to stay in the job that you’re in. There’s always something else you could be doing”. Tell us more about this.
Kiko: I left my job in teaching to launch a business (SUPKiko), build a charity (The Big Stand), and set about changing lives through emboldening women via goal setting and confidence building. People can easily get caught in the mindset of viewing success as climbing to the top of their field and earning a lot of money. Meanwhile, they’re on a bit of a treadmill of working too hard to pay the bills for their large house, fancy car, or exotic vacation needed for detox from this daily grind. I found another way for myself and I’m humbled by the community and support I’ve gained for my initiatives.
Tiffany: Who is helping you in your quest to break this world record?
Kiko: I’m lucky to have the support of Charlie Pitcher (below) who is the male world record holder for the same rowing expedition across the Atlantic. I also work closely with Guin Batten, Silver Olympic medallist rower. Friends join me in training for paddle boarding and bike rides. I truly have a solid support system.
Tiffany: What is your timeline and where are your departure and arrival destinations?
Kiko: I will depart the Canary Islands in January of 2018 and arrive in Barbados 45 days later (or thereabouts!).
Tiffany: As a counsellor, I have to ask, where did all of this energy, motivation, and fearless goal establishment come from?
Kiko: As the 3rd of 4 children, my parents had already seen the bright, well behaved achieving sorts. I had to make a big splash and do things in my own way. If I can help other women to dare for their dreams and lead a fulfilled existence, then I’ll know I’ve made them proud.
Tiffany: Thank you so much, Kiko. I’ve followed you on all channels to witness your journey as it unfolds. One day I’ll get to say that I interviewed a world record holder, and for this I’m eternally grateful!
Tiffany Sperring is a freelance writer. She can be reached via email & the links on her author page
We’re calling on our #teamtall community to get behind fellow tall girl Kiko to support her mission to become the new female world record holder to row solo 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. We’re aiming to raise £1000 and would love your help to make this happen – click the donate button below to show your support.