The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is an annual race from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua.
In mid-December, approximately 20-30 crews will set off to row the 3,000 nautical miles to Nelson's Dockyard in Antigua. The fastest crews will make it in 5 weeks but for the slower boats spending over 90 days at sea is not unheard of. From the moment they leave La Gomera, all rowers go through the same routine - eat, row, sleep repeat - 2 hours on, 2 hours off until they see the welcoming sight of the coastline of Antigua.
Less people have rowed the Atlantic than have climbed Everest or been to Space. Perhaps it is the daily 20 foot waves, perhaps it is the thought of spending 7 weeks on 8 square metres of floating fibreglass with three other men with only the promise of blisters aggrevated by salt and the chance of spotting a mythical sea creature to ease the boredom, or perhaps the view from the rowing seat doesn't quite compare to that from the highest mountain in the world. Rowers race not just against the other crews, but against the deterioration of their own bodies and minds. This is an endurance event like no other - a psychological challenge as much as a physical one. Regardless of the view, the completion of the challenge is the reward in itself because the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is the World's toughest row.
MEET THE CREW
Robin grew up in the countryside of the Scottish Borders. His thirst for adventure has been developed through his career in the Army, winters spent in the Alps, and the occasional weekend in the Lake District. A competent rower at university, he qualified as a coach and a motor launch driver. His most recent maritime adventure was two weeks sailing on the Baltic Sea.
With chemotherapy completed, he has trained over the summer to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon with his fiancee Steph who he married in August 2018.
Will is a proud Yorkshireman born in Harrogate. An enthusiastic sportsman, he loves a challenge in whatever shape it comes. Hitch hiking around Lesotho for six months whilst teaching Biology and Physics, two operational tours in Afghanistan and training the Nigerian SBS to 'play nice' are just some of the experiences he can spin tall tales from to help the crossing go a bit faster for the crew.
He has personally experienced the impact of mental health problems among close friends and colleagues in the military, and is passionate about the fantastic work Combat Stress do.
Passionate about all things science and adventure, Dave is an Army Officer by profession and a gentleman explorer at heart. An enthusiastic, though perhaps not a gifted sportsman he has given almost everything a go from ultimate frisbee to scuba diving, and as of three months ago, rowing. Amongst his achievements are a Masters Degree in Physics, an Ironman triathlon in 2016 and winning the 25m backstroke in year three.
Dave met Robin in 2012 during their first posting in the Army in Herford, Germany. Only a few days later they realised they had two shared passions in life: adventure and cake. The difference is, Dave can bake.
Sam has grown up and lives in Hampshire where he runs his own plastering firm.
He is a keen mountain biker when he's not injured and in the winter he returns to the mountains with a snowboard. In a past life he used to ride motocross, but is putting it all aside for the ever so slightly more sedate sport of rowing.
Sam has travelled extensively through South East Asia and Australia, and feels it is time for a new challenge. His experience in running his own business and in a practical trade will be invaluable as the campaign develops.
In August 2016, Robin was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer which came as somewhat of a shock for an active 33 year old with dreams of adventure. Robin was lucky, being diagnosed at stage 2, the cancer had not spread and was treatable through surgery and chemotherapy. Many young people who suffer from Bowel Cancer suffer a far worse fate because of a lack of symptoms or misdiagnosis. The decision to row the Atlantic Ocean came from a desire to undertake an adventure to celebrate surviving cancer and to do something to help people who have the disease in the future.
Robin quickly found his friends and family to be supportive. Dave, Will and Sam also wanted to do something life changing, sharing in the adventure of raising £250,000 for charities.
The crew have a strong link to the Armed Forces; three are serving officers in the Army. As such, they are all too aware of the devastating effect post traumatic stress disorder has on service people, their families and their friends. Combat Stress does a fantastic job in helping service people deal with the daily difficulties they face as a result of their service.