Six women set out on six-month quest to row across the Pacific

Coxless Crew: Natalia Cohen (front) and Isabel Burnham Credit: Natalia Cohen/PA Wire

A team of six women are aiming to row their way into the history books today, with an audacious attempt to row 8,446 miles across the Pacific.

The women, calling themselves the Coxless Crew, will take around six months to cross the world's largest expanse of open water, from San Francisco on America's west coast, to Cairns in north east Australia.

ITV News correspondent Richard Pallot reports:

They'll be doing it in a small pink boat named Doris, which is less than 30ft long, and just 7ft at its widest. They'll be battling temperatures of up to 40 degrees centigrade and ocean storms, as well as blisters, fatigue and even boredom, all in the name of charity. The crew hopes to raise £250,000 for Walking With The Wounded and Breast Cancer Care.

Leading the Coxless Crew is Laura Penhaul, a 31-year-old Cornishwoman, who is the lead physiotherapist for the British Paralympic team.

Also on board are Emma Mitchell, 29, an expedition team leader from Marlow, and Natalia Cohen, 40, an adventure tour leader.

The women spoke to ITV over Skype last night, hours before they set out:

Three further women will join the team for separate legs of the trip: Isabel Burnham, 30, a solicitor from Saffron Walden, Lizanne van Vuuren, 26, a south African osteopath, and Meg Dyos, a 24-year-old estate agent from London.

What's more, this is set to be a record-breaking expedition, as it is the first time that a boat of four people, men or women, have rowed across the Pacific. They'll be sleeping, relaxing and rowing in shifts of two hours, and consuming 5,000 calories per day, all of it stashed below deck.

For Ms Cohen the challenge will be 90% mental and 10% physical, made manageable by breaking it down into comprehensible sections.

"It is ridiculous, a huge undertaking and without doubt will be the biggest challenge I have ever faced," she said. "Though we have obviously done a lot of mental preparation and have to be able to visualise the end at Cairns, I am taking it chunk by chunk. That is how you deal with the enormity of it all.