Leg 3, Day 48 – Two Perspectives; The Parent and The Sibling

Lizanne Van Vuuren By

Day 48 – Two Perspectives; The Parent and The Sibling
A blog from Lizanne’s mother

With all the various sports our children were involved with over the years, rowing was never one of them. Our experience with rowing was limited to a glorious day at Henley Regatta; colourful blazers, Pimms and Lemonade, picnic and a sporadic cheer for a team rowing over the finish line. I suddenly loved rowing; it was a great introduction to a calm, glamorous, short races and social sport.

When Lizanne mentioned her intention of rowing across the Pacific with three other girls I could not put these two pictures together. How was she going to cross an ocean?! She’s only little!

We were apprehensive and not very supportive at first as we cared for her safety and did not understand the scale and magnitude of this expedition. The enormity of this project scared me. Dad had a John McEnroe moment, where deep inside he wanted to shout out – “YOU CAN NOT BE SERIOUS!!” But she WAS serious, and four months later she was on the boat.

We realized that we needed to jump aboard her rowing journey otherwise we would be left behind. So naturally the Coxless Crew mission has taken over our lives! It has become the norm in our house to find out where the girls are first thing in the morning and last thing at night and making calculations on when they might arrive. We have enjoyed living their journey through the blogs and emails.

We have made amazing new friends having met the other parents; all wonderful people lovingly supporting their daughters, holding their hearts with hope and in dedication for this journey.

The first time I realised the greatness of this journey was when we met the girls on their arrival into Samoa. A tiny pink boat emerged from the biggest and deepest ocean with only 4 tiny/scrawney/skinny girls steering her and willing her forward with hard work, 24 hours every day. An immense feeling of pride came over me.

Meeting Tony (logistics manager), Sarah Moshman and her camera crew was also amazing!!! It was clear that this team possessed dedication, meticulous planning, integrity, work ethics, perseverance, compassion and a will to succeed.

There were many unsung heroes behind the scenes like Nicola Mills. She arranged a wonderful colourful reception for the girls in Samoa and many other treats. A humble “I felt it right to play my part in recognising their achievements!!” was her reply to our gratitude.

This journey has added a huge bonus to my life. I hope that with the money raised it will touch the lives of people who are facing many trials and difficulties.

May the Coxless Crew’s legacy provide inspiration and encouragement for people who have their own Pacific to cross.

Love Adri x

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A blog from Lizanne’s brother

If my sister has taught me anything about how to ‘change your life’, it’s this; commit to something, and commit big. Let me explain…

About two and half years ago, Lizanne had a moment. At the time she was doing fine – living in Cape Town, practicing her profession as an Osteopath, had a good group of friends, etc, but one day she decided that “fine” wasn’t how she wanted to live her life and she needed to ‘do something’. Something what, though? She didn’t know – the same with most people – but with hindsight I can now say that the answer is this; it doesn’t matter what the ‘something’ is, as long as it’s big and as long as you do it.

At the time Lizanne’s colleague was training for an Ironman triathlon. An Ironman! That was big and drastic enough, so she committed. The very next day she signed up to do the East London Half Ironman which consists of a 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride, and a 21km run. She signed up to a training programme, changed her budget to allow for the kit, and most importantly changed her habits and timetable to allow for the rigorous training regime. Having committed, she stuck to it and 7 months later completed the Half Ironman in 7 hours something.

That was the catalyst. Having completed something so awesome and so intense, she had a template for how to tackle big challenges. First commit, then work out the details.

Needless to say, it was the same for when she joined the Coxless Crew. She wasn’t a rower, but the opportunity was there, right in front of her to take. Lizanne committed to the crew and set to work figuring out all the details in her life that needed taking care of for when she was away. It wouldn’t have been possible without these people – our dad Sarel van Vuuren, our mother Adri for her continued support, Lizanne’s business mentor Cliff Warren, practice manager Christle Hickman and all her friends and colleagues for the endless support, thank you! – I figure that people are far more amenable to helping out if you are doing something awesome.

Throughout her life (not just the row), Lizanne has been an inspiration in how she’s tackled life. She’s challenged herself, and sought out experiences to build her identity. It also helps that she has surrounded herself by a tribe of positive people in her life, all of whom have a great influence on her. Luckily for her, that positive ecosystem was recreated on a tiny pink boat in The Pacific, with three other incredible women and a mutual goal. 97 days later, that common goal, that positive group thinking got them to Apia harbour in Samoa. For Lizanne, she was back on land; for the rest of the CC, Cairns awaits. And after that? Who knows… I look forward to finding out!

Bernard x


Update: today we want to wish John Beeden a massive congratulations for reaching Cairns. For those of you that haven’t followed john, he has rowed from San Francisco to Cairns non stop! In the 2nd leg, we came within 5 nautical miles of John! Sticking to our bet of the first one to cairns buys the drinks, John you owe us! We can only imagine how delighted Johns wife Cheryl and family must be to have him back on land! Hopefully not long until we also step onto dry land!



  1. Babs says:

    A great blog Adri and Bernard, again another insight into family concerns which we can totally understand. Lizanne has been amazing to have slotted in so well, just shows what a great character she has. All the girls have been so strong and have remained focused from beginning to end. You are on the final countdown now girls, cherish it, enjoy your last few weeks together and stay safe, we will be waiting when you arrive in Cairns. Xx

  2. Love the parent blogs. All seem to have started with “you can’t be serious ” but all have adapted to giving total support to their daughters. How many of us have adopted you all as “ours” checking where you are and that you are safe. Managed to catch up with your 5Live interview today and delighted to hear you all.
    Congratulations to John on his incredible achievement and we and all of the fellow followers await the end of your challenge. As Babs says enjoy the rest of your time together. Stay strong and keep safe. xxxx

  3. Simon TY says:

    JB on the Channel 4 News at 10pm. Hope you get that welcome. Great progress and the big figure is now 7……

    Hope you have a good day with great progress.

    Xxx S

  4. JG says:

    One common denominator you girls have is strong families and clearly you would not be the people you are if this was not the case. So ‘bravo’ to all the family members involved in this expedition. The miles are falling away nicely and Cairns will be upon you soon. JB found the last bit through the Barrier Reef and beyond hard going with the random currents over the shallows. As I type the Google Earth plot, although based on a slightly out of date pink dot, shows just under 750 miles to go. Nearly there girls!! Hope its not too hot and humid for you just now. Take extra care and keep safe.

  5. Jim Andrews says:

    Lovely tribute Adri and Bernard. As previously stated these special ladies must have fantastically supportive families, to get to where they are. Their achievements are beyond the normal, I imagine their energy and ambition must be difficult to keep up with? I have enjoyed, almost obsessively, following this amazing adventure, adding my thoughts to these interesting and enlightening “blogs”. I have been following with great interest and concern, these six courageous women who are touching the lives of so many. I wonder how many people read these daily reports, without adding a comment? As the journey nears it’s final phase I wish you all a safe journey to greet your beloved daughters/sisters please pass on a congratulatory hug from these complete strangers who have followed every courageous mile. Ladies you continue to inspire, progress is good, Cairns, ever nearer. Stay safe. XX

  6. John’s arrival in Cairns was featured on the news here in Toronto last night. Can’t wait for your arrival in Cairns ! What are we going to do each day with no blog to read or Doris to track ?

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