top of page

Transcript of the Tough Girl Podcast with Sally Kettle - World Record Two-Time Atlantic Ocean Rower

Sarah: The Tough Girl Podcast is all about motivating and inspiring you.

Hello and welcome to the Tough Girl Podcast. I'm delighted to be here with Sally Kettle.

Sally, hello and welcome to the show.

Sally Kettle: Hello, how are you doing?

Sarah: I'm very well thank you.

Sally, you’ve done some incredible feats. You're known as a professional adventurer, author, motivational speaker, and you've also got a Guinness World Record.

Let's just take you back right to the beginning. How did all the adventuring really start?

Is it something that you've always wanted to do from a young age, or is just something that sort of developed throughout the years?

Sally Kettle: No, you know what, it wasn’t something I wanted to do from a young age. I just wanted to have an interesting life. I had a weird sense of my own mortality when I was a kid. I don't know why that is in particular, but I knew from an early age that actually this is it, you don't get more from this and that you've got to really make the most of it.

I was really keen to have a life that was filled with exploration and experiences and to really grab it by the proverbial rather than just go into a regular job and sort through that and come out at the other end and go, “Oh, is that it?”

I was pushing myself when I was younger to think about something really exciting, and then the ocean rowing came up as an idea. I thought, “Wow, you know what, I've never done this before, let's give it a go,” and then it all exploded from there.

Sarah: The ocean row, is that the first of a big challenge that you actually took?

Sally Kettle: No, funny enough it wasn’t.

From the outside looking it, it probably was, but for me the stuff with the London Marathon was my biggest challenge to start with because I've never really run before.

I remember being very quite sporty, but enthusiastic at sport at school but actually never really good at it. I was always the first to fall over because I was so excited about getting stuck into the netball match or whatever that I’d trip over myself with excitement there’d be blood leaking down onto my white socks. I left school and I think as most young women tend to do is they kind of drop out of doing any sort of sports participation.

Then you get into your 20s and you try to feel in a bit blobby and you think what am I going to do about this, and then you get stuck into your first mini-challenge. For me that was the London Marathon.

I remember when I first started training I couldn’t even run down the street literally to run down the street without feeling painful and horrible. At the time I kind of got myself to start the race and that for me was a massive achievement from both my self –confidence and for my physical fitness too.

Anybody who has trained for a marathon knows how mentally difficult it is. It is really tough going. Just doing that really helped when me when it came to preparations for an ocean row.

Sarah: I think you’ve actually hit the nail on the head because a lot of the schools where I go to, a lot the girls don't want to play sports, they don't want to get involved and they do end up dropping out.

They miss out on all of this, the teamwork and the fun that comes from being involved in team sports. I've run the London Marathon myself so I know how hard the training can actually be, and the mental challenge it actually places on you.

You’ve run the marathon, you obviously got the massive high from completing that challenge. How did that translate to rowing across the ocean because that's quite a big jump from running to rowing?

Sally Kettle: Yeah, it was a massive jump. I had a boyfriend that was home and I think when you're done, it's kind of massive. I think it is massive as running a marathon.

You still think what's my next challenge and it feels like a demand for you to continue challenging yourself so that you don't drop into a lack of activity all over again.

I suggested to him that we did....from the bike and that would take two weeks, it would be great the two of us. He said, “No, I couldn’t go,” because he was planning to go with a friend of his and it was boys only.

He said, “We can row across the Atlantic.” The funny thing is I had never heard of it. I instantly thought of the row at the local rowing lake, the harbor type thing. I thought nobody had ever done it. With a little bit of investigation and found out there was actually quite a few ocean rowers and they've actually been in races. He must have read about it somewhere because he just called it out of nowhere. He was by no stretch an athlete in any way and he had never done any running or any rowing, and I certainly had not done any rowing but I just thought, “Wow, this could be it.” I was kind of crossing life crises at that point, that bit where you come out puny and you say, “Oh, my God what am I going to do?” and everybody’s got sexier boyfriends than you, and better jobs than you, and everybody seems more focused than you, and they are earning more money than you.

It's driven by jealousy of everybody else whose purpose is seemingly a perfect life and you think I'm going to take something a bit massive on. That's what I did. It's funny because somebody some time ago said to me that happy people don't climb mountains. That was really true for me at that time. I was really looking for something to come cheer me up and get me focused. We decided to just get started right in and skip the session room.... a go. It was a complete life-changer.

Sarah: You actually made some really interesting pints there especially about not knowing what it is that you wanted to do and everyone else seemed so focused and so driven.

It's almost having like a plan in place or something to aim towards. You’ve obviously got this big challenge, rowing across the Atlantic.

How did you even start the training and the mental and the physical preparation for it?

Sally Kettle: We talked to a lot of people and I think that's really important because you only gain knowledge by asking stupid questions, and we asked a lot of stupid questions.

Actually what was fabulous about that sport in particular, if we can call it sport, was that everybody was really keen to talk about it. They’d already done it. They could share their vast amount of knowledge and experience and tell us right there the hideous stories as well as the good stories. We did a massive knowledge download to start with. That continued all the way up to the start of the race, we were asking people who would come up to support and help.

Certainly as the ocean row was in it, what would they do and how would they do it because we had never been in a boat. We had only been on a cross-channel ferry. It was a massive learning curve, unbelievable. It was like ice-climbing. It wasn’t even walking up a hill, it was a vertical knowledge download. That was the first step.

Interestingly, I work a lot now in the corporate environment through our teamwork and so on and so forth, but one of things that I've done recently was talk about visualization and how important that is to enable you to achieve your goals.

Without knowing it, during the whole process of preparation I was doing a lot of visualization. I was imagining myself on the boat and what I was doing there. I think that really, really helped me when I actually got into the boat. That was a biggie, getting the mindset right.

On the physical front I think we got it all wrong, to be honest. We spent a lot of time in a rowing machine and we shouldn’t have done, but we just didn’t know a lot of people who’d trained for this type of event. I think as things are getting more professional with ocean rowing I think that's completely changed.

At the time we thought if we start in a rowing machine we’d be really fit and ready to do it, but actually it was a big mistake because what we really needed to do is build our muscles because we were going to lose those because we would lose so much muscle mass while we were at sea.

Tom, the boyfriend actually didn’t end up coming with me, my mom ended up coming with me. She’d only got two months training so in the end it all came down to the mental rather than the physical if you want to complete a challenge like that.

I think that's the same with any big expedition. It is going to be down to be down to your physical toughness.

Sarah: Absolutely.

Sally Kettle: It does really help if you're physically fit because then you're not having to rely on your mental toughness to get you through so much because everything is hurting.

Sarah: You’d never actually been on a boat before you set off?

Sally Kettle: No.

Sarah: Wow.

Sally Kettle: Like we spent half a day just on the harbor on the rowing boats before we left.

Sarah: Oh my goodness, that's absolutely crazy.

Sally Kettle: Yeah, it was, but the funny thing is it was kind of norm. When you're right at the start of ocean rowing, and we were kind of really it was the start of ocean rowing to be honest, the people who took part in it were average Joe’s, the housewives and chaps who had just walked out a regular job and this was going to be a life-changing adventure.

Most of us came to a completely naïve to the whole process. In lots of ways it continues to be that within ocean rowing. It doesn't attract many professionals.

It attracts regular people who just want to have an amazing adventure at sea. I think that's the beauty of that sport, is that's what it does. I’d like it to continue being like that.

Sarah: Sometimes it's actually a blessing when you don't know what you don't know.

Sally Kettle: I know, it's hardly ignorance is bliss.

There's not many sailors that actually go off and do ocean rowing because they know how hideous it is.

Sarah: Were you with your boyfriend? You are planning to do this trip. Two month before he drops out and then your mom steps in.

Sally Kettle: It wasn’t even like that. We actually started the race so the boyfriend and I were out on the boat. We spend six days at sea. He had epilepsy and we had to picked up and taken back to the start because he had a seizure four days in. We were ready to go, but that six days was just hideous. I think the comparison I would make is that when you know in the running training, that first three miles or two or three miles are just hideous and we think “Why is this hurting so much, I just don't want to continue.”

After that you kind of kick through the pain and you get into the sweet spot. In ocean rowing they say the first two weeks are the worst, and I have to tell you, they most certainly are. If you can get through the first two weeks you can get all the way across. It's just a shame that we weren’t able to do that on the first attempt just because of Tom's illness so we had to go back and then come back to the UK and then we signed up to another race two months later and my mom said that she’d come with me.

Sarah: Wow, so you’d already done one week which is the hardest week.

Sally Kettle: Yeah.

Sarah: You could have actually easily quit right there and then, but it's awesome that you persevered. It's you and your mom, you're on the boat, you're rowing across the Atlantic. How was it?

Sally Kettle: It was amazing.

It was really amazing and really hideous at the same time.

The one thing about this particular experience is that you don’t have middle time. It's always incredibly low or incredibly high emotionally. There's rarely any bit in the middle. It's so like the sea in that way, I suppose, it's a great mess. When you're feeling down, gosh you feel down. Everything’s hurting, your backside is hurting, your hands are hurting. It's never bloody ending and you think are we ever going to get there. You're creeping along at a snail’s pace and you're feeling homesick and it's just horrific and then suddenly a whale comes along. It's like, “Oh my God, there's a whale!” he sort of backs around the boat and it's so exciting and you think, “This is the most beautiful environment ever and I can't imagine being at home.” The whale goes two hours later and then and night shifts in and “Oh my God, we’re still here.” It can be exhausting emotionally, but going with my mom was the best thing ever, really, she was just as awesome.

Sarah: What would be a typical day like? How do you structure it?

Sally Kettle: The funny thing is I think my mom and I were quite unique in how we structured our day because of the relationship we had and also because of our goal. That was not to fail and to just get across.

The teams that were keen on breaking records and or getting across quickly, they would have had a completely different structure. Mom and I, we did a maximum of an hour on an hour off during the day and then we went to bed at night because neither of us enjoyed the night shift. It was incredibly lonely and extremely long and it was making us feel really depressed, so we just went to bed. Sometimes we drifted further during the night than we rowed during the day which made no sense. When we were all hands on deck it took us a few weeks to figure it out. We felt really lonely. When you're rowing as a pair you're actually rowing on your own.

If you tell anyone the way the boat is set up you rarely sit with the other person and talk to them unless you decide to row together and the other person sits on deck with you. That's pretty hard core. We both agreed that we’d much rather sit out on deck with each other and talk to each other than row during the night. That's what we did and we listened to a lot of Carol king and we talked a lot about our lives and we grew cress and it was a really beautiful experience. It was a lifestyle, not an adventure. Does that make sense?

Sarah: Absolutely, and it sounds as though you really bonded. How long were you out on the water for?

Sally Kettle: Four months.

Sarah: Four months, wow.

Sally Kettle: Just craziness, it was 106 days. Actually my mom and I got to a point where we were really pleased that we broke the 100 days because it felt like such an achievement to spend 100 days at sea. It was massive. We wanted to come in at 88 days, two fat ladies. That was never going to happen. In fact, we kind of continued on it, it was 106. It was really great for us.

Sarah: Can I ask, how old were you at this point, and how old was your mom?

Sally Kettle: I was 26 and my mom was 46, so she's quite a young mom.

Sarah: That's actually fantastic because sometimes I think people have these mentally limiting factors with regards to age and whereas I think that age is just a number. The fact that she did that, it's fantastic.

Sally Kettle: It's totally ridiculous but older people saying they can't achieve it. There's an amazing couple, the Hoffstein. I can't remember his wife’s name, but they are planning to do the row and they are in their late 60s. The one thing that comes with age is the wisdom and self-knowledge that's needed to take something like that and really look after yourself and enjoy it. Something that I learned from that very first experience is that most of the competing teams didn’t enjoy it. I just think the likelihood of you ever doing this again is pretty slim, so you may as well go out and have a great time and sit back and smell the coffee because how often will you get the opportunity to sit in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and try and touch whales?

Sarah: A hundred and six days, you're coming into the other side, what was that feeling like when you got to see land?

Sally Kettle: Slightly scary.

That sounds a bit weird but it was a sense that you've got to go back to the world again. I think there's so many French troops at least under post-deployment blues. I don’t know if you’ve heard that term where it's mostly seen in soldiers who are coming back from the field and thinking, "I want to be out there again. I want to be out there experiencing this because you feel so alive in doing it."

That's definitely true for me. When I got off both my mom and I were like, “Yeah, well we got here.” Everybody thinks that when you see land it's going to be this amazing joyous experience, and we kind of whispered. At the same time we’re thinking about, we have been rowing towards it for the last four months, it's not like it's a surprise.

We got off and we were like, “Is that here,” because you're there and every day feels like a week and every week feels like a year, and then as soon as you see land that four months is gone in a flash, it's just disappeared.

The one thing that I do enjoy about being a speaker is that you're able to relive that experience again and again and again because it was so extraordinary for us.

Also I hadn’t spoken to my mother for nearly 10 weeks before so it was a hugely emotional life-changing journey for us a mother-daughter relationship.

I suppose it's kind of doing it's my turn to pay for a holiday every year, going, "How could I be not able to do it, it feels brilliant." It's a level off for me because it gives me an opportunity to realize how extraordinary that adventure was.

Sarah: I know that you wrote a book about it as well.

Sally Kettle: Yeah.

Sarah: Tell me a bit more about the book. It's Sally’s Odyssey. Is that about your experience with your mom and rowing across the ocean?

Sally Kettle: Yeah. Did you get the odyssey, by the way?

Sarah: The ending.

Sally Kettle: The pun. Yeah.

Sarah: I do now.

Sally Kettle: That was a really tough book to write, actually. It took me a year and a half to do it, as much of anything else. I had a bit of a confidence crisis writing it. I though nobody is ever going to want to read it right now.

I sold 1,000 copies and that's really weird that people have read it and know my life quite intimately, really. I got the book. Again, another crazy interesting journey on that as well.

The publisher went bust about a week after it hit the shelves and he ran away to Australia. I had to re-engage the deal with people who were selling books.

For the last few years I've been selling them on my own which has been really empowering in lots of ways. Anybody who’s done any book writing and attempt to sell it suddenly realizes that actually that is a lot tougher than it's portrayed. The selling of the book as just as tough as the writing of it.

Sarah: Absolutely, and you can get your book on Amazon and also from your website,

Sally Kettle: Yes, that's so, look it up. I signed it too so if you want to send me an email, anybody who wants it, I'm happy to sign it to them.

Sarah: Fantastic. You're rowing across the ocean once and do you 106 days and then you decided to do it again.

Sally Kettle: I know.

Sarah: How did that come about?

Sally Kettle: That's a story in itself.

Came back from the first row. It was an amazing experience and raised a quarter of a million pounds for a charity that deals with sporting. In that process, because it had taken so long I lost my flat. I’d been renting out to a chap and he didn’t pay the mortgage, difference on the mortgage that go in on the dole, and moving into my parents, which was a bit kind of crappy.

I came back from this experience thinking oh my God the world is my oyster, and I was thinking, I’d been listening to news on a mini-disc player, it wasn’t that long ago, and I was thinking, “I can't hear something less to music, and because I've read the Atlantic, I'm sure, they're going to invite me to one of their concerts and it's going to be great.” Things that you think in your head because you think that this is such an amazing achievement and everyone’s going to love you. Then you come back and the dark reality is you're on the dole.

I thought,"Well this is just the particulars. Sometimes I don’t understand how we've gone through this entire process and got so many people to support the project and so on and so forth and then I'm left in this kind of pickle really.” I thought what I wanted to escape the first women because there had never been a women’s sport before. The feminist in me certainly though “This is as a sport for women as much as it is for men,” so I wanted to get together a team of three other women to do that.

Also, to go on an expedition that was caring of the rowers that were participating and not leaving them in the shit at the end financially. I had two goals really, one to reinvest in the sport, get a world record, and two to create a structured expedition that was financially viable. We only managed to do one of those and that was the financially viable.

The first one was a complete nightmare because unfortunately we went into the West Bay Atlantic for 200 years. One of the girls slipped and hurt herself and she decides to jump the boat and disqualified us from the race.

Unfortunately, our world record dreams were completely trashed and certainly they were when a shark missed attacking the back of our boat. It was definitely an interesting journey the really, really tested all of us on board.

Sarah: How do you cope with things like that? Sharks attacking the back of the boat and there is somebody dropping out and dashing your dreams at the same time. You carried on though, didn’t you?

Sally Kettle: Yeah, God yeah, absolutely. The funny is at the time I've not really been in a position of team leadership sports so this is a real test for me, and at times I'm that person that's incredibly lonely and also began to feel a little bit paranoid about how I was being perceived by my team mates and whether I should be doing more being better. That was really, really tough. I think lots of people go through that when they are a team leader but not always that honest about it which is quite interesting because I think that is part of the challenge really, and that is to feel confident in your own ability. It not only comes from doing it.

It was a really long struggle to stay positive after Joe got off the boat, but Scarlow's humor is an amazing way to get through these things. We did actually spent a huge amount of time laughing and listening to Robby Williams and singing and just being realistic about what we could achieve.

At that time survival was the realistic choice, and to try and keep going. To the end of it it took an age really to realize the power of that journey. That came from talking to the girls and finding out that actually my goal was to get the world record and to reinvest in the sport, but their goal was just to row across the Atlantic in the end all of them managed to achieve even Joe because she went out and she did it again and I was so proud of her for doing that.

That's not a message I tend to give out to the people that I speak to and that is just because you fail once it doesn't make you a failure. That's something that really important and it's very easy to lay score that those who have not achieved. In doing so you enable them not to achieve and you really got to support those that are struggling so that enables them to go out and do it again.

Sarah: Absolutely. You obviously learned a lot from that experience about leadership and motivation. What would you say were the top two to three things that you learnt from that that you could share with us?

Sally Kettle: Did you watch The Island with the Bad Girl Island?

Sarah: Yeah.

Sally Kettle: Yeah, and the women’s group. It was very interesting to see how they pulled themselves together, to start with.

They really wanted a democracy, and that is something that I've seen a lot with women’s teams in particular is that they don’t like to be led by one single individual, or they don't want to put themselves forward as the leader.

That's something that I was really struggling with as well because I’d been it before I kind of nominated myself to the skipper because of my experience and the girls said, “Yeah, yeah, you're the skipper.”

Actually when we were out there I was defaulting a lot to a democracy and waiting, defaulting as a team to a democracy which didn’t always work. It's interesting to see that dynamic happen in The Island as well for those who haven’t seen it that actually it really didn’t work for them at all. In the end the girls had a massive argument ion the island and decided that they needed a leader.

Funny enough, the leader who came out, one of them was an ocean rower. Something I will take from that experience is if you're going to be the leader, bloody lead.

Sarah: You might as well take ownership of it that you are in that position.

Sally Kettle: Especially as a woman because we are seen to have this thing where we’re too afraid to tell people what to do or we’re not really sure, maybe we should just come to from democracy and everybody gets their way because I'm a little bit scared of taking the stand. That's something I don't do now. If I'm leading this bloody leader. It doesn’t mean that you can't ask the team their opinions but they are looking to you to guide them and you have to take that on because otherwise everybody feels a little bit uncomfortable and unstable. Certainly in my experiences after the ocean rowings, I have been in teams where other people have been the leaders, those expeditions that have worked best are the ones where the leader is very strong and give you the permission to do what you need to do because you’ve been told what you need to do and therefore you know what you have to do. The times where it hasn’t gone right is wen the leader has not come out and just taken control. That's a big lesson for me.

Sarah: Thank you for sharing that.

I think that's really important especially for women listening as well.

I think sometimes we are afraid to take control and be seen as bossy, for example. It's leadership skills.

Sally Kettle: Yeah, absolutely. This is something that is coming out with feminist talk at the moment is that we are undermining our little women by saying to them they are too bossy when they are outspoken. I think that needs to stop.

Sarah: I agree completely. I know back in May 2010 you actually took part in the last leg of the round the world clip a yacht race. How was that?

Sally Kettle: It was fascinating. That was a fascinating experience. I was very lucky to go at the media place and actually report back. It was an experience as a team.

Remember I was saying about this idea of the leader not stepping forward and doing what's necessary. On the first race that I was on we were racing from Jamaica to New York. There was a good chance we were going to win that race but we were losing it because we were as a team just really not getting it together. I really surprised myself because I ended up going down to see the skipper who pretty much had sort of taken locked up.

He was in his cabin and I went down to him and said, “Just come up and bloody lead us.” I was really angry, I shouted at him to get his shit together and get up on board and help us win this thing. He did and we won the race.

I think it was the first win on there. I'm not saying it was because of me, but it was interesting dynamic within that team that actually if everybody is engaged and everybody is working towards the goal, the likelihood is that you will actually achieve what you want. That was definitely demonstrated at that time.

Sarah: That's fantastic, congratulations on the win. How did you bond with your team mates? How did you get to be part of that team?

Sally Kettle: I think that's incredibly difficult and I don’t know if many leaders actually manage to choose them. It depends when they come in on board and it depends if they trained with the people previously.

What is absolutely amazing is actually giving you the most extraordinary extensive training for the race. That can be a really beautiful experience because you come on board in your first week of training, most of us, with absolutely no idea what a yacht even does, and you're running around going, “Don’t go over the red rope.” You all learn together and that can be incredibly bonding.

After the first week of training we all started weeping when got off the boat, it was like “Oh my God,” it was like new family. It was just an emotional time. If you had the opportunity to meet people at that stage and then you're on board your actual boat, I think that helps. I want lucky enough to have that, unfortunately.

With the last leg the round the world is kind of I've been there done that. That sort of slightly teamed out and kind of just want to get to the end. Certainly a couple of boats have been a bit like that.

There was one team in particular who couldn’t rush, they won every single race. That was the Australia team. Their skipper, he was there to bloody lead and he led that team to a win and they came out smiling every single time. I know they probably had their ups and downs, but it's incredible how the culture on the boat is entirely led by the skipper’s attitude.

Our skipper was an incredibly lovely man, but he wasn’t a racer, he wasn’t there to race, and that's what we’re doing, we’re doing a race. That can be a bit demoralizing when you are on a boat.

Sarah: Absolutely. I know you’ve actually raised a huge amount of money, charities throughout the year which is absolutely fantastic.

I was hoping you could just share some of the charities that you work with and why you picked those charities.

Sally Kettle: The first one was at Fund Epilepsy which now has been absorbed into epilepsy actions. We raised a quarter of a million pounds for them because of Tom and his epilepsy. The money went directly to getting a doctor of epileptology at Kings College. We were very lucky it was one of the last things my now ex-boyfriend and I did together, and that's to go and meet that doctor. That was an incredibly proud moment and life-changing for a lot of people.

When we were travelling the country with a boat and talking people. There were so many who came up to us and said, "Oh my God, nobody ever does stuff this fun for epilepsy.” It's one of those conditions that's not really that sexy that was a brilliant experience.

On the second one we did it for Shelter Box and that was because I lost a friend in the tsunami, and also one of the team, Claire, was out in Thailand when the tsunami hit.

She managed to miss it because they had said that all the hotels in Phuket were booked so she should go north instead, and literally on the bus driving up north to Thailand the tsunami hit that night. I had to go and pick her up in the airport and I was thinking “Is she going to be there”.

It was truly dreadful. I was working for BBC radio at the time so I was really in the thick of the news that was coming out of Thailand and that region during the tsunami. There was a lady who wanted to join the team but in the end she didn't decide to go ahead with it.

She was a Rotarian so those of who mentioned charity for shelter Box who are going out and give out tents, family tents to people that had been hit by disasters.

I was thinking we should raise money for them. I'm still continuing my work with Shelter Box now. I'm two deployments with them after disasters. That was the link with them.

Now I'm an ambassador in girl guides which is really exciting.

Sarah: Yeah.

Sally Kettle: Yeah, about the...

Sarah: Yes, you are.

Sally Kettle: Which is really cool. I try and go and see so many girls as possible and tell them about my adventures. I try to be really honest with them too about how emotionally difficult it can be, how it doesn't always work out to plan. I think that is definitely something that we don't always get with our role models, naming no names here, but it's all very glossy. It's all very smiley, and didn’t everything work out, and aren’t we amazing, especially with adventure. If you could slap a lad’s backside for this, and that's kind of stop showing the macho stuff and really … We need to tell it how it is because if you do, people can get a full sense of the experience and can feel that if it hasn’t worked out then maybe they've done something wrong, and actually things done work out all the time and things change all the time.

Sarah: Absolutely, and I think also like getting them to understand that failure is a learning experience. There's nothing wrong with failing, the worst thing is not even trying it in the first place.

Sally Kettle: Yeah, absolutely. That is exactly it.

The last charity I'm working a lot with is the London Sports Trust and I'm chair of their trustees, a major grassroots sports for young people in west London.

They are really struggling. We’re talking about getting young women to stay. I just can't remember it being an issue when we were young because there was so much sport available at school and we were expected to participate. I don't know if that's the case anymore. I'm not really sure how, but how many facilities there are for young women to play hockey, netball and the stuff that we did. We didn't have a choice, we had to go out and join the team.

Sarah: Absolutely, all weathers.

Sally Kettle: Yeah, oh my God, I used to hate hockey.

Sarah: That's exactly what I was thinking of.

Sally was cold.

Sarah: I think what is great is that there are campaigns coming out now like This Girl Can which is getting more women involved in sports, and even online at the online community through Instagram or through Twitter people are supporting each other when they are going out to go running or do anything fitness-wise which is fantastic.

You mentioned role models before. Did you have any role models when you were growing up?

Sally Kettle: Not that I can remember, to be honest.

Sarah: Do you have any role models at the moment or anyone who inspires you?

Sally Kettle: That's a really interesting question.

I don't know if I would place it on any one person.

I'm fascinated to read interesting inspiring people about interesting inspiring stories as well all the time. I'm very conscious.

This is the thing that I think about role models and that is they don't have to be celebrities, they're surrounding you all the time. They are your family, they are your friends. If your family and friends say I'm going to go do this, you're going to go, “All right, then I'll come with you.”

Some celebrities as always, are going to do this. “Are you allowing me to do it?” Well, probably not. It's the people who surround who actually are more role model than the people who aren’t surrounding you.

I suppose then my mother’s a role model, my sister is a role model.

My sister’s really gotten into running recently and swimming, water swimming the weekends. I go because she was going, and I'm usually quite nervous about that sort of stuff.

Sarah: Yeah.

Sally Kettle: I definitely decided family and friends.

My friend Ness was an extraordinary, he never actually took me to a run.

My friend Ness came and did my second London Marathon with me and we really supported each other and we forced each other out to train, so we were role models to each other. I remember this one particular friend of mine when I was back in, just after university. That was because of these moments, that I’d been complaining saying “Oh God don't start ... ”

Every single morning she came with me to the gym to gym with me. We’d be up at 6:00 in the morning down at the gym together, and every day she was there supporting me, giving me encouragement and showing me how to reach the brakes.

She was an extraordinary role model for me, and gave me her time, encouragement and her love. I can't thank her enough for that.

Sarah: I think women are actually really good at doing that. If you do reach out to your friends and say “I do need help, I need support,” women will just rally round and help each other, which is amazing, which is so fantastic.

Sally Kettle: Yeah, absolutely.

Sarah: I just want to know, this is a big question, do you have any sort of advice or tips or any words of wisdom that you want to share with our listeners today?

Sally Kettle: About the whole adventure schemes and life in general?

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. Let's make it life in general. Just the top tips, life in general.

Sally Kettle: I have two quotes.

There's two quotes that I really enjoy that I think are totally relevant to me. The first one is,

“You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to do aside with the shore.”

That is a big one and that is really being brave enough to push yourself and say,

“I don't know anything about this but I know I can learn. I can learn this, it's okay.”

I'm in the place of producing a feature film. I've done short films in the past. I come from a theater background, I did that in university.

This is my first feature and I just heard about learning curves. It's absolutely mammoth, it's unbelievably new and different for me. I said “Well, other people have done it so why can't I?”

Don’t be scared, try a new thing. Don’t be disheartened if it takes a long time. There is that other quote by Henry Ford. It's the one that goes, “If you think you can or you think you can't, you're right.”

Sarah: Absolutely.

Sally Kettle: That to me is all. Have courage and think you can and you'll be amazed what you can achieve.

Sarah: Absolutely. I like the one where you talked about leaving the shore because it's almost the same as getting outside your comfort zone and really putting yourself in an uncomfortable position.

You mentioned the feature film which is also putting you outside your comfort zone. Can you tell us any more about this?

Sally Kettle: Yes, it's been in the process for a long time, and it's called Row Girls.

There's a three beat at row girls, and there’s a website

It's four girls who decide to row across the Atlantic. It's very, very loosely based on my experiences with the four women. All the girls in the film are very different to the girls who actually took part just to protect them.

It's a good old-fashioned comedy romp where these women take on the ocean and all hell ensues. It's been scripted and we have a script writer and we are currently speaking to directors. It's going to cost us between five and eight million pounds.

Sarah: Are you looking for funding at the moment for it?

Sally Kettle: Yeah, I'm looking for funding. I'm looking to cast it and looking for a director. It does sound like it's not very far along, but actually in terms of the relationships we've started to make with people, we've made some real considerate steps forward and we’re on the seventh draft of the script, so it's quite developed and the story’s there.

Sarah: It sounds super exciting. Anyway it sounds brilliant.

Sally Kettle: I went yesterday to pine studios to go and look to their water tank and facilities. That was really kind of cool, so we might be shooting there. It's a funny thing. I think this is definitely something that I would advise people to remember. I think you may have felt the same thing when you were training for the marathon. That is you kind of sit there when you haven’t done it, you need to start and think, “I'm not going to make it in six months, it's never going to happen, I'm not going to do it.”

Then you run your first 5k and think, “my God I'm not going to make 26 miles, how am I going to do it.” Then you run your first eight mile and you're literally crawling across the line at the end and going, “Oh my God, how am I going to make 26 miles, how am I going to do it?” You're constantly self talking saying, “I'm never going to make it, never going to make it, never going to make it,” and then you are doing the 26 miles and you're thinking, “I'm never going to do it, I'm never going to make it.” Look across the line and you’ve done it. Well this is it.

It's very easy to forget how far you’ve come.

Sarah: Absolutely, and it is all about that journey and the fact that you are still making progress.

It doesn't matter how slow that progress is, you're still moving forward.

You're still moving forward to achieve that goal of getting this film produced, which is fantastic.

Sally Kettle: Yeah, and sometimes it's glacial. Recently it's been quite glacial, but now it's starting to really gather momentum and it's scaring the hell out of me because it's kind of tapping into that fear of being a leader.

I've just to grab it by the mettle really and just go for it and say, “I can do this.”

Sarah: Absolutely, and you can do it, and you're doing at the moment.

Sally Kettle: Yeah.

Sarah: Sally, if people want to know more about where they can learn more about you and follow you on Twitter and Facebook, could you just give us the links to your website and your Facebook and your Twitter?

Sally Kettle: It's really easy. It's just Sally Kettle.

You can put Sally Kettle and you will find me and my life tweet feed which is @sallykettle, my website which is

I'm always happy to send emails and have chit-chat to anybody who is contemplating any adventure at all.

Sarah: Sally, thank you so much for being on the show. You’ve been absolutely brilliant.

I've been fascinated by your stories, rowing across the Atlantic, the different charities you’ve done.

I've been super-impressed by all of your charity work and the amount of money that you’ve raised.

Best of luck with the feature film Row Girls. I can't wait till that comes out because I’ll definitely be somebody who’ll be going along to watch it.

Thank you very much and best of luck with all your future endeavors and adventures.

Sally Kettle: Thanks very much, it's been a pleasure.

Here are the links to listen:

bottom of page