A thrill seeker hopes to become the fastest woman in the world to cross the Atlantic Ocean on her own.

Linda Blakely, already an Ironman champion, triathlete and Everest summiteer, is an ambassador for Christ’s Hospital school in Horsham.

The fearless adventurer, 49, is embarking on the solo row across the Atlantic in a 12ft Rannoch 10 boat named Ulster Warrior in support of the charity Action Medical Research.

She plans to set off from Gran Canaria today and row the 3,000 miles to Barbados in 40 days, breaking the previous world record for a woman of 40 days and 19 hours.

What makes this endeavour even more extraordinary is that Linda, who will celebrate her 50th birthday in the middle of the challenge, had never rowed until very recently.

The Argus: Linda pictured with the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes when he gave a talk at Christ’s Hospital in NovemberLinda pictured with the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes when he gave a talk at Christ’s Hospital in November (Image: Christ's Hospital)

“After the best part of two years' preparation, it is now 24 hours to go – and it is all becoming very real,” Linda said on the eve of her departure.

“I am feeling a mixture of excitement mixed with a little bit of nerves, but pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is very good for personal growth and mental health. I can safely say it is the best feeling in the world and one that makes you feel alive. Prepare fully, train hard and then give it your all.”

Linda is an ambassador for Christ’s Hospital’s expeditionary education programme, which was launched in June and offers students at the school a variety of challenging and adventurous activities including canoeing, sailing, raft building, mountain biking, mountaineering, bushcraft, outdoor cooking, camping and rock climbing.

A spokesman for the school said: “No doubt Linda’s incredible feat will become a source of huge inspiration to Christ’s Hospital students as she tests her physical and mental limits in this heroic attempt to break a world record.”

Linda said: “I am under no illusion as to how difficult this will be, but as long as I reach Barbados knowing that I put 110 per cent effort into it, I will be more than happy.

“I look forward to sharing my experiences with Christ’s Hospital students soon.”