A MEDICAL student who hopes to row in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles has been awarded a £1,000 bursary to help her achieve her goal.
Natacha Searson (20), a former Hautlieu pupil who currently studies medicine at Newcastle University, will use the Jersey Clipper Bursary to ‘build her profile’ and fund her travel, boat rentals, entry fees and accommodation costs in forthcoming rowing competitions.
This year marks a clean sweep for female rowers in the bursary awards, with the runner’s-up award of £500 going to Intrepid232, a group of four mothers who hope to break the world record for the oldest female fours crew to row any ocean as they participate in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge this December.
The winners of the 2021 bursary, Steve Hayes and Pete Wright, completed the gruelling 3,000-mile challenge earlier this year in 54 days.
Natacha started rowing at 14 and has completed the Sark to Jersey race three times, including in a single at 16 years old.
She has some big oars to fill as rowing runs in the Searson family.
Twenty-five years ago, Natacha’s father, John Searson, the former head of Jersey Met, smashed the record for the fastest east-to-west solo crossing of the Atlantic, after his rowing partner pulled out.
He completed the crossing in 59 days and 12 hours, 16 days inside the previous record.
In December 2022, Natacha represented Jersey at the Commonwealth Rowing Association’s Beach Sprints Championships in Namibia, where she came fifth in the female singles, beating a Tokyo Olympics competitor.
Recently, she won both the women’s singles and mixed doubles at the Welsh Coastal Championship.
‘My long-term goal is to compete at the Rowing Beach Sprints at the 2026 Commonwealth Games and at the 2028 Olympics,’ she said.
‘To achieve this, it is important for me to build my profile and I will use the bursary to attend as many local, national and international events and trials as I can this year.’
These include the GB selection trials and the British Championships.
She said: ‘If I am selected, this also includes the World Rowing Championships in France, the European Rowing Championships in Italy and the World Beach Games in Bali.’
While Natacha specialises in sprints, the runners-up have their sights set on a marathon across the Atlantic, from La Gomera in the Canary Islandsto Antigua in the Caribbean.
The Intrepid232 team consists of four mothers – Rosemary Satchwell, Helene Monpetit, Alison Smithurst and Julie Brady – whose combined age at the start of the race is reflected in their team title.
They have already amassed 1,000 followers on their social media pages.
As well as aiming to break a world record, they are raising money for the Grace Crocker Foundation and the Blue Marine Foundation.
The team will put their award towards the cost of medical kits necessary for the challenge.
Mrs Brady said: ‘While we each have our own personal reasons, our main aim is to show that if you are determined and prepared for a lot of hard work, you can achieve – whatever your age or gender.’