A HAMPSHIRE yachtswoman currently racing across the Atlantic in a rowing boat has resorted to rowing naked to avoid chafe.

Just one week into the Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race, Lia Ditton and her teammate Mick Birchall have been forced to strip off to avoid sores caused by rowing for more than three hours at a time.

The pair each have to row up to 12 hours a day in the 2,500-mile race from the Canary Islands to Antigua which is expected to last around three months.

Sailor Lia, 29, who is in training for the Barcelona World Race later this year, said: “I’ve winced at the oars acutely aware of every muscle at the back of my legs and resorting to micropore tape inside gloves to pad out the blisters.

“The onset of chafe sores has been remarkable and already we’ve had to resort to bare bums on sheep skin.”

The pair were among 30 teams to start the race on January 6 and are currently lying in seventh position.

Already they have seen seas of up to 10ft which have left 44- year-old Mick, a Detective Inspector with Cambridgeshire Police, suffering sea sickness.

Lia added: “Mick’s hammering headache caused by severe dehydration and vomiting was taking on a life of it’s own and ongoing, he remains confined to the cabin.

“Sharing the cabin between rows has made sleep difficult. With the sheer effort of packing ourselves in, I’ve tried rowing for longer and resting for a longer period instead. Slowly, the combination has worn me down.”

Keen artist Lia made headlines in 2006 with her performance piece Absolute Solitude, for which she lived onboard a yacht outside the Tate Britain for 28 days. She was inspired by her experiences in the 2005 OSTAR transatlantic race, and is now planning Colours of the Atlantic, a piece based on her experiences rowing the Atlantic.