Sea sickness, sleep deprivation, blistered hands and even hallucinations.

Anyone would wonder why someone would put themselves through that pain, that horror.

But Whanganui sisters Kate and Harriet Austin say it was all for a good cause and the reward has been beyond compare.

The Wanganui Chronicle has been following the Blister Sisters since they embarked on "the biggest challenge" they had ever done.


The pair took part in the biannual charity event, called NOMAN Is An Island, where crews, at all skill-levels, rowed 200 miles from Ibiza to Barcelona to raise money for HPV Cancers.

Kate (left) and Harriet Austin make to Barcelona, Spain, after rowing 200 miles of non-stop. Photo/ Emma Russell
Kate (left) and Harriet Austin make to Barcelona, Spain, after rowing 200 miles of non-stop. Photo/ Emma Russell

Last Thursday, they completed the challenge in one piece. Kate Austin has spoken about the physical and mental challenge and overcoming "the wall".

Four boats, 19 athletes, 200 miles, 52 hours.

The sisters were a part of one of two all-female crews. While the two all men's crews had five rowers, the Whanganui girls had only four.

"We didn't realise until we got there, but one person needed to be monitoring the radio and navigation in our cabin which meant they were on look-out for ships and communicating with the support crew so there were times you didn't get much sleep...if any."

Having two of the crew rowing on a two-hour alternate shifts, meant only one person could rest at a time.

"That's after you had cleaned your hands, feet, medicated and force fed yourself.

RAW: Kate Austin's hands after the row.
RAW: Kate Austin's hands after the row.

"The guys crews definitely had the advantage of having five on board," Kate said.


She said it was the toughest, but most rewarding challenge, she had ever completed.

"There were moments were I really thought I couldn't go on but somehow you just keep rowing.

"To be rowing 12 hours a day without sleep for two days was exhausting - towards the end a couple of the crew started to hallucinate little men running across the water - it was quite funny at the time," Kate said.

Fifty two hour since leaving Ibiza's sunny shores to brave the tough weather conditions, the girls achieved what they set out to do - and more.

"Finishing in second place was an added bonus."

Kate described the atmosphere was uplifting.


"On the boat we were all really supportive of each other and positive. It's a vulnerable time when people may snap but no one did and we all got along really well."

But the challenge is not over for Kate yet.

On Monday Kate set track to do the Camino walk - 800 kilometres across the top of Spain.

"I already have plenty of blisters so this might be an even bigger challenge," Kate said.

The sisters said so far they had raised $12,000 for the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation but they hope to raise more.

To donate funds to Kate's campaign visit:


To donate funds to Harriet's campaign visit: