Everyone Has a Pacific To Cross, This First Female Team of Rowers Did It.
“Listen, Ladies” talks to Sarah Moshman, director of the documentary Losing Sight of Shore, as well as Natalia Cohen, one of the six women rowers who were part of an incredible journey crossing the Pacific. The interview has been condensed and edited. To listen to the whole interview, download it here: http://apple.co/2sx8swC
Listen, Ladies (LL) : We’re so glad to have Sarah Moshman, director of the film Losing Sight of Shore, as well as Natalia Cohen, one of the six women who took part in this incredible journey and one of the three who made the entire trip of over 8,000 miles. You both have such an amazing story to tell here. Let’s start with Natalia.
LL: There are several notable achievements here, one of which is that you and this team were not breaking records, you were setting them. How did you become part of the team, and how did this come together?
NC: The coxswain crew originally was born about four years ago; Laura set up the project. She was involved with a different team, and things happened, and that team disbanded, and then she drove the project forward, and she put together a recruitment process. I actually came across an ad on a website to be involved in the row, and that’s how I found out about the expedition. I had been managing a safari lodge in Capetown at the time, and my contract had come to an end. I’ve always had this love of the ocean, being in and around water, and I suppose with my background in the travel industry—I’ve spent so many years in developing countries—being around people who might not have very much else, but they have this wonderful strength of spirit—I thought that an opportunity to be involved in the row would be a great way to go very deep within and draw on that strength. I applied for the expedition even though I had never rowed before. I thought, “Let me just see if I like rowing” so I went to the gym, sat on a rowing machine for about an hour, hour-and-a-half, and I loved it. I found the motion really meditative. But ultimately I believed that the expedition was a ninety percent mental one over the physical. So I applied, and here we are twelve years later.
LL: I definitely want to get back to the idea of its being a real mental challenge, but Sarah, before we get there, how did you get involved in this movie? I know a lot of your projects focus on women’s empowerment and women doing amazing things, so how did you get to this story, and why did you know that it was one for you?
SM: The project, as Natalia mentioned, was very much in motion by the time I came on board, but, it was January 2015, so about three months before they were going to leave from San Fransisco to set out across the Pacific. I just got an email from my friend Fiona Taten, who runs a magazine called Womanthology UK, and she had interviewed me about my previous documentary the Empowerment Project. She very casually said, “Would you like to be introduced to these four women who are about to set off across the Pacific? And I thought, “What? What are they doing?” and it was just so out of my wheelhouse—I know nothing about rowing, I’m definitely not an athlete, so my initial sort of pause was, “This isn’t for me, but I’ll definitely Skype with them and see if they want any recommendations of what cameras to buy. I had no expectations. And then maybe the next day or so I Skyped with Laura and Natalia, and I was just absolutely blown away.
This was never about rowing to them, to me—it has always been about the power of the human spirit—and that was clear from day one. So although I know nothing about the sport, and I knew nothing about the technical aspect of what they were about to endure, it just seemed like a story that I desperately wanted to help tell. And the fact that they were women obviously made me even more excited about it. They were going to be breaking boundaries and being pioneers out there in the ocean. And it didn’t really matter what the vessel to tell that story was, it was just about these women doing something so, so difficult and so far outside their comfort zones. I really wanted to be a part of it, so it happened fast. And no less than three months later I was standing on the dock in San Francisco watching them row away, and it was very emotional, and it’s been the best, biggest, most awesome adventure of my life. I wasn’t able to go with them, which at the time I was like, “I’m so glad I can’t go,” but now I’m really sad I wasn’t on the boat because it seemed like such an adventure. They were completely unassisted, unsupported, there was no follow boat, no camera boat throughout the entire 8,000-plus-mile journey. I just wanted to make it as easy and streamlined as possible for them to pick up a camera and shoot something as it was happening because they didn’t know when they were going to see wildlife and when emotion is going to sort of bubble over.
NC: I think although we all had our own personal reasons for wanting to do the row—and I think we all have to have our own drivers because you have to have that to keep you going through the hard times—collectively we really wanted to create awareness and raise funds for the two charities that we supported: Breast Cancer Care and Walking with the Wounded.
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