Crossing Your ‘Pacific’


I have met many women who set themselves challenges and attempt remarkable feats, writes Sue France. It seems to be part of the DNA of successful entrepreneurs that they feel they want to test themselves to the limit.

Courtesy of Natalia Cohen Courtesy of Natalia Cohen

Two from my group are climbing Kilimanjaro in September and even I am considering trying something unique in 2018 to celebrate becoming 70.

You might think the challenge Natalia Cohen set herself in 2015 was quite extreme but, once you meet her, you can see why she did what she did and you won’t be surprised to learn she succeeded.

You can watch her incredible journey on Netflix in the documentary “Losing Sight of Shore”

This follows Natalia and three other brave women, ‘The Coxless Crew’, who set out to row the Pacific Ocean from America to Australia, unsupported.

They rowed 8,000+ miles during nine months at sea and they faced extreme mental and physical challenges which they overcame to win their place in history as the first ‘four’ to do this.

I asked Natalia why she went in the first place? She said: “I had finished a contract managing a safari lodge in Tanzania when I came across an advert on a website; a newly-formed group of women, ’The Coxless Crew’, were looking for team members to join them in rowing across the Pacific Ocean.

The timing was perfect. I was ready for an adventure and I have always had a deep love of the sea. I truly believed the journey was going to be a mental one over the physical. For this reason, the fact that I had never rowed before wasn’t a huge consideration.”

I asked if she preferred to adventure alone or as part of a team?

“My background is in the travel industry. I began that journey as an adventure travel tour leader. This was an interesting mix of being solely responsible for a group of clients travelling with me but being part of an ever-changing group dynamic.

Every few weeks I was presented with a different group. From there, my work has predominantly led me to be part of a team. I was responsible for the smooth running of all logistics and tours in the place I was managing.

In Tanzania, I was the only female and non-local in a team of 30 at the safari lodge. On the Pacific our team was the smallest I’d ever worked with but, without doubt, it was the most intense environment, unlike anything I’d known before.”

Finally I asked about her future plans. “For now, I am concentrating on sharing my story and the key insights linked to leadership, successful teamwork and mental resilience through talks, workshops and coaching.”

It won’t be too long before Natalia is off on her travels again so I am booking her now to inspire my group.

Everyone has a ‘Pacific’ to cross and perhaps she will help us discover ours.


Sue France heads a ladies networking group called Creative Connecting in Cheshire. She can be contacted via

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